John Hane Overton, Jr.

John Hane Overton, Jr., died October 25, 2021, in Durham, NC.


He was born January 15, 1937, in Winston-Salem, NC, to John Hane Overton and Mildred Varner Overton.


John will be remembered for his quiet, thoughtful, and caring nature. He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather, who relished intellectual pursuits. He liked reading and discussing science fiction, and working with computers. He studied and played chess for many years, and developed his own chess program. John enjoyed classical music and was a Pavarotti aficionado.


As a child in Columbia, South Carolina, John spent a memorable summer as a batboy with the Columbia Reds, a minor league baseball team. Always scientifically minded, he was interested in the space program at an early age, building his own model rockets with varying degrees of

success: one accidentally set a neighbor’s garage tar roof on fire.

Luckily, the local fire department responded quickly.


John earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Carolina in June 1960. He then served two years in the Navy, where he made some cherished friendships. He pursued his love of the space program through work at the Goddard Space Flight Center, designing optical devices, mirrors, and lenses.


In March 1964, John married his love, Margaret Ann Keller of Columbia, South Carolina. It was the start of a wonderful marriage that lasted over 50 years. They moved to Chapel Hill in December 1964 so John could pursue his doctorate at the University of North Carolina. While living in married student housing, they formed many deep friendships and gave birth to both their sons, Robert and Edward.


After John finished his PhD in Physics, the family stayed in Chapel Hill, joining the community of Binkley Baptist Church. John began working for the Environmental Protection Agency, doing computer modeling of health effects in the lungs. He retired from the EPA in 2005.


John and Ann enjoyed traveling. For over four decades, the larger Overton family shared an annual beach week with lots of swimming, family games, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. John and Ann loved their annual Hilton Head week with their close friends, the Kleins. For many years the family had a regular mountain week in Saluda, where John spent a lot of time reading in the porch hammock. John and Ann vacationed in Greece, the Pacific Northwest, the Netherlands, the American West, and Italy.


John is survived by his sister, Katherine Patterson of Petersburg, Virginia; son, Edward Overton of Chapel Hill; daughter-in-law, Kim Overton of Hillsborough; grandchildren Natalie Overton, Kayleigh Overton, Marina Overton, and Eve Overton; and dear friend Morita Rapoza of Durham.


He was predeceased by his wife, Ann Overton; son Robert Overton; and daughter-in-law Abigail Overton.


In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association,