The University Record, March 25, 1997


Charles Overberger
Charles G. Overberger, professor emeritus of chemistry and vice president emeritus for research, died March 17 at Riverview of Ann Arbor after an extended illness resulting from Parkinson’s Syndrome and related disorders. He was 76.

An educator and internationally known expert on organic polymer chemistry, Overberger also was an adviser, consultant, editor and author of hundreds of technical papers. He was responsible for the development of a large number of Ph.D. students and was a teacher for scientists from the United States and other countries.

“Prof. Overberger was an early giant in organic polymers who helped establish the field as a major subdiscipline in chemistry,” said Robert L. Kuczkowski, chair of the Department of Chemistry. “His leadership in establishing the interdisciplinary degree programs in the U-M Molecular Science and Engineering Center preceded the current wide interest in these programs. He strengthened the U-M chemistry department as a researcher, teacher and chair.”

Overberger was born in Barnesboro, Pa., on Oct. 12, 1920. He received a B.S. from Pennsylvania State University in 1941, and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1944. He was a research assistant at the University of Illinois in 1944-1946, and held a DuPont Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1946-47. In 1947, Overberger became an assistant professor of chemistry at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, where he was promoted to professor and associate director of the Polymer Research Institute in 1951. He went on to serve as chair of the chemistry department in 1955-63 and as dean of science and director of the Polymer Research Institute in 1964-67.

In 1967, Overberger joined the U-M faculty as professor and chair of chemistry. He served as U-M vice president for research in 1972-83 and as founder and director of the Macromolecular Research Center in 1968-87. He retired from active faculty status in 1989.

Among the numerous honors received during his career were the Charles Lathrop Parsons Award of the American Chemical Society in 1978, the International Award of the Society of Plastics Engineers in 1979, the Horace N. Potts medal from the Franklin Institute in 1982, and the University’s Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award in 1985.

Overberger was a past president of the American Chemical Society, the chemistry section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Macromolecular Division of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. He also served as member or chair of numerous boards, committees and professional associations; as a consultant to several industrial firms and government agencies; and as an editor of several professional journals and reviews. He held three honorary degrees.

Overberger will be remembered for his seminal contributions to chemistry and polymer research and education, his commitment to developing good chemists and educators to succeed him, his abiding faith, and his gentle caring for his family and colleagues.

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Chase Overberger of Ann Arbor; four children from a previous marriage, Erica Marie (John) Greenbaum of Staten Island, N.Y.; Carla Lee Overberger of San Anselmo, Calif.; Charles Thomas (Rhonda) Overberger of Kalamazoo, Mich.; Ellen Ann (Max) McKelvey of Savannah, Ga.; one grandchild, Sam; two brothers, William Overberger of Yardley, Pa., and James Overberger of Morgantown, W. Va.; and many nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Charles G. Overberger scholarship fund, founded several years ago by former students and colleagues, c/o U-M, Macromolecular Science and Engineering, 930 N. University Ave., 2541 Chemistry Bldg., Ann Arbor, MI 48109.


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