Former Juneau mayor and advocate for keeping the Capitol in Juneau Bill Overstreet died Monday at around 4 p.m., six weeks after suffering a stroke, Laraine Derr told the Empire Monday evening.
Born in 1926 in Waynoka, Okla., Overstreet came to Juneau in 1952 with his wife, Jean. He had applied for teaching jobs, but the couple moved before anything was certain. He worked as a stream guard and helping to build Harborview Elementary School before securing a job teaching and coaching basketball, moving through the ranks and eventually becoming superintendent of the Juneau School District and director of the Alaska School Board Association.
After retiring from education, Overstreet ran for mayor with the intention of keeping the Capitol in Juneau.
“I chose to run for mayor because I felt I had enough contacts throughout the state and knew more about the state probably than most people because I had traveled to all those places. So I thought I was a natural to lead that fight against it.” Overstreet said in a 2012 interview, “I ran for mayor and won, and that just changed our lives completely at that point. And so everything after that became, in my mind, measured on the basis of ‘How does it fit the argument to keep Juneau as the capital?’ and I was good at that. That’s a very immodest statement, but it’s true. It inspired me and I think I inspired a lot of people..”
In more recent years, Overstreet has championed projects like the currently-under-construction new State Library, Archives and Museum and the bronze whale statue designed by Skip Wallen and planned for a waterside park.
Though Overstreet had traveled the world, serving in the Navy for three and a half years starting in 1942, working a few years in Tokyo after serving as mayor, and spending winters in Arizona after retirement, Juneau was home for him and his wife of 65 years.
Overstreet is survived by his wife, Jean, and their son. Services are being arranged.
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