Looking back: Hometown heroes
Like U.S. Presidents, the state of Ohio has given birth to more than its share of astronauts – reportedly 24. While Neil Armstrong and John Glenn are the most notable, Westlake's own Col. Robert Overmyer is a distinguished member of this proud group.
Although born in Lorain in 1936, Overmyer always considered Westlake his home. Young Robert's family moved to Canterbury Road, and he entered Westlake schools in the first grade. Overmyer graduated from Westlake High School with the class of 1954.
During the summertime of his high school years, Robert worked at Dean's Greenhouse on Porter Road. The income from this summer employment made it possible for him to attend college after graduation.
Overmyer entered Baldwin Wallace College in the fall of 1954 and studied a scientific-oriented curriculum.
While at BW, he met a pretty young cheerleader, Katherine E. Jones, and they were married shortly after. The Overmyer family later welcomed two daughters and a son.
He entered flight school and became a U.S. military pilot. In 1969, Overmyer qualified to join the NASA program team. He soon gained entry into the Astronaut Program and helped with the engineering development of the Skylab project.
His next assignment was as a support crew member for the Apollo 17 mission to the moon. In 1982, he became the pilot of a four man crew that was to fly the Space Shuttle Columbia later that year. In November, he commanded a five-day mission to launch the first commercial satellite.
A few weeks later, he returned to Northern Ohio and visited each of the Westlake schools. "What a tremendous thrill it is for me to come back to my hometown," he told the students.
He was also given a key to the city by the mayor, and stopped in for a brief visit to his previous employer – Dean's Greenhouse.
In 1985, Overmyer commanded a seven man crew aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. Later he was part of the team that investigated the ill-fated disaster of that same Challenger in early 1986.
In March of 1996, Robert Overmyer lost his life during an aircraft testing mission.
The Westlake Historical Society is pleased to honor Col. Robert Overmyer as one of our hometown heroes!