Richard D. Overfelt

Richard Dee Overfelt passed away peacefully at home on January 6th, 2022. He is preceded in death by his parents Thelma and Chester and his beloved wife of 70 years, Myra, married on May 29, 1949.  Richard was born on July 18, 1929 in Duncan’s Bridge, Missouri. As a boy, he enjoyed growing up with his friends and relatives in a small country town during the depression. He was an Army Korean War veteran.

Richard began a near eight-decade career in education in a one room schoolhouse, was a beloved principal at Highcroft Elementary in Parkway, and ended his career supporting educators through Truman State University’s Professional Development program. His impact on students and educators is immeasurable.

He also, along with his family, ran a Christmas Tree Farm outside of Clarence, Missouri. The family spent many weekends, holidays, and summers there together working to grow and sell Christmas trees.

His family includes Ricki Schwartz and her husband Rick Schwartz, Kevin and his late wife Julie Overfelt, Scott and his wife Jane Overfelt; eight grandchildren, Katie and her husband Chris Growe, Jerry and his wife Jennifer Schwartz, Travis and his wife Karelynn Overfelt, Shannon and her husband Jared Hickman, Hannah and her husband Brad Mitchell, Andrew and his wife Megan Overfelt, Daniel Overfelt and his fiance Jordan Blaser, and Megan Overfelt. Myra and Richard also have six great-grandchildren Harper Growe, Bennett Schwartz, Hudson Growe, Julianne Hickman, Charlie Overfelt, and Jason Hickman.

Richard’s family will honor his memory in a private Celebration of Life. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for contributions to Phillips Cemetery c/o Marlin Woods, 11255 Highway J, Jacksonville, Mo. 65260.


  1. Viv Tiemann on January 11, 2022 at 4:47 pm

    Love, Love, Love you, Richard. I have gladly and proudly been one of your many disciples throughout our years together. You made me a better person, mother and teacher.UP, UP WITH OVERALLS.

  2. Carol Stukey on January 11, 2022 at 4:51 pm

    He was the king ofCamelot and most who worked with him were willing subjects. He was teacher, mentor, friend, loyal supporter of staff, students and parents. He loved them all and tried every way possible to bring out the best in all of us. His is a life that will be remembered for many years by many, many different groups of people

  3. david zona on January 11, 2022 at 5:57 pm

    I was able to teach at Greentrails on the condition that Richard Overfelt would hire me the following year at Highcroft Ridge. He did and he introduced me to a whole world of fun, caring, responsible people. I watched him teat people with respect and work to get the most out of them. Richard, thank you for caring about me and overlooking my many mistakes. You left too soon !!!

  4. Dave Dunkman on January 11, 2022 at 6:03 pm

    Richard was an amazing educator, and he always made me feel special.

  5. Barb Radtke on January 11, 2022 at 6:24 pm

    Memories, memories, memories of our beloved Richard are going through my head today. We all knew him in different parts of his life but to have worked with him was a gift to all of us at Highcroft. He was the very best and most special person that I have encountered in my life. Just being around Richard brought so much joy to the day-to-day experiences of all of his school personnel and enriched our lives tenfold. We were all “so lucky” that he chose each of us to experience his vision of The Greatest School in the World and it was.

  6. Marcia Kampelman on January 11, 2022 at 7:43 pm

    Up up with highcroft, it’s a great place to grow. Up up with highcroft, it’s the greatest skool we know! We work together we play together, we’re tops in every way…we know that our skools the BEST skool, HCR hooray!
    From Eddie Kampelman
    With love for Dr Overfelt
    “Best years of childhood”

  7. Laura Wootten on January 11, 2022 at 7:46 pm

    Anyone who knows Richard also knows how hard it is to find words that adequately describe how special he truly is. I feel honored, grateful and lucky to have had the opportunity to be his student. He helped shape me into an educator who thrived on building relationships and who strived to always put kids first. My favorite memory was my last night of class, sitting on the porch swing with him chatting about our time together. My heart was filled with so much love and respect as he shared kind words and well wishes. I found myself overcome by emotions and I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was sad that our time together had come to an end. But, even then, I found comfort in the idea that knowing him had changed me forever. Hearing of his passing brings back that same emotion I had that day on the porch swing. I hope his family finds some peace and comfort knowing that countless lives have been touched and that his kind spirit will live on in his countless students.

  8. Hope (Rowold) Johnson on January 11, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    I have such great memories of Dr. Overfelt, who gave me a tour of the early construction area that would become Highcroft when we lived down the hill from the playground. I was a member of the first 1st grade at the building. He did an amazing job recruiting all-star teachers and my fellow Highcroft graduates and I have greatly benefitted from our early years all these decades later. I have since raised two daughters to college age and now work as a school secretary; in those years, I’ve learned that there are very few principals in this world who live up to the standards set by Dr. Overfelt. My sincerest condolences to his family and my greatest thanks to them for sharing him with the rest of us.

  9. Brenda McKinley on January 12, 2022 at 7:15 am

    What a lovely tribute. Looks like a wonderful man. Prayers for your peace and comfort. XO

  10. Susan (Shevah) Pinkus on January 12, 2022 at 9:44 am

    Dr Overfelt touch my life so profoundly.
    Every day of elementary school was magical. I truly have spent a lifetime attempting to understand what took place behind the curtain of this great wizard. I thought maybe it was because we were the first class to experience all six levels of the school (along with Hope Rowald, Suzanne Smith, Paula Jester and many other adoring Dr Overfelt fans). No, that wasn’t it.
    I became enamored with the way children learn so I could share that Overfelt magic with them. I got my degree in Elementary Education, then Art Education and ultimately became certified as a School Principal and Educational Administrator. No where could I find the magic I remembered as a child.
    I know I tend to be quite idealistic so perhaps my memory was skewed. I conducted dozens of interviews with his former staff, students and teachers. To my amazement, everyone reported the same experiences. He was a true keeper of the vision. He elevated his leadership by being a guide who facilitated an empowered community of compassion, authenticity and collaboration.
    He was a man of integrity, who walked his talk. I admired his courage to redirect out-of-compassion behavior, understand it and transform into understanding and connection. Now I train facilitators to create their own communities with the same vision Dr Overfelt instilled in our belief that life in community can be so wonderful, especially if we take a moment to stop and “sit on the rose” 🌹. May his memory be a blessing always.

  11. RIzell Kalishman on January 12, 2022 at 11:09 am

    You made my career and life better than I could have imagined, and I do have a good imagination. Hope I can pass on your positive energy to those I meet and love.

  12. Jessie Krafcik on January 12, 2022 at 12:02 pm

    In every profession there is a once-in- a-generation leader. For education that has to be Richard Overfelt. His fiercely unrelenting advocacy for schools and teachers as professionals is unmatched. He stood up, spoke out and always supported us. It was with that knowledge that all of us, who were lucky enough to have had a place in his life, were able to do and be our best. We knew that he always had our backs.
    The porch swing, antiques and rocking chairs helped to create the welcoming feeling to all who entered our school. But it was Richard who was the heart and soul of Highcroft Ridge. His leadership through his example of kindness, dedication, hard work, generosity, common sense, accountability and humor is what came to be known as “the Highcroft way.” It was because of that philosophy and spirit that he imbued in all of us that our school was, truly, “the best school.”
    Countless teachers, staff, students and parents will be forever grateful.

  13. Marla Robbins on January 12, 2022 at 1:18 pm

    RESPECT- nothing but for a great educator/teacher! Whenever you attended his classes, you always felt important, grateful you worked in the education field and happy as life’s lessons were taught in an unconventional manner but eventually incorporated into your own classroom because they worked. Your insights, friendly smile and genuine caring will be missed! RIP.

  14. Susan Weitzel on January 12, 2022 at 3:31 pm

    I had the great joy of teaching with Ricki, Richard’s daughter, that was so much like her Dad. Enjoyed being introduced to Richard’s wonderful and inspiring graduate classes. Rest In Peace Richard knowing how much your positive nature touched so many others. 💔

  15. Jeff Silverman on January 12, 2022 at 5:49 pm

    Dr. Overfelt was my 1st grade principal and my neighbor growing up. I remember him as an attentive and dedicated principal that all the kids adored. I’d see him once in a while in his yard when visiting my parents as an adult and chat for a minute or 3. His genuine kindness and curiosity were unmistakable even in those quick exchanges. They always put a smile on my face. My condolences to his family.

  16. Mara Fitter on January 12, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    The day Highcroft opened for the first time, I walked in the doors as a kindergartner. I was a member of the first class of students to attend from kindergarten through sixth grade. In my junior and senior years in high school I was privileged to come back as a 6th grade camp counselor. At the time, I had no idea how lucky I was to be surrounded by educators who loved what they did every day greatly because of their leader, my principal. What I did know then, and still remember to this day, is how incredibly special Dr. Overfelt made me feel when I sat on his rose rug and received praise. May his memory forever be a blessing.

  17. N. E. Evers on January 12, 2022 at 9:55 pm

    Dr Overfelt was my principal at River Bend in the1970s…I Feel very lucky to have gone to school where where he was administrator.. And as far as schools, and the administrators.. he stood head and shoulders aboone else in my memory. I will never forget him.. I’m sorry for your loss.

  18. Carey Gooden on January 12, 2022 at 10:29 pm

    Dr. Richard Overfelt’s beautiful legacy lives on through his son, Dr. Kevin Overfelt, principal of Raytown South High School and his granddaughters Shannon and Hannah, dedicated, enthusiastic & loving teachers.

  19. Barb Cerutti on January 13, 2022 at 11:46 am

    The greatest cheerleader for teachers will be remembered with smiles.

  20. Holly J Wolf on January 13, 2022 at 9:57 pm

    Richard will continue to share the space in my mind that is occupied by clowns, happiness, devotion, conversations, hand written notes, good people, 85%, casseroles, sunflowers, sunshine, roses, bourbon, bad words, happy notes, swear jars, overalls, parades, grey skies, kookaburras, American flags, contraptions, chrysanthemums, snow days, porch swings, Coke, carousels, music, and happy days. Thanks for the memories Richard❤️

  21. B. Kincaid on January 14, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    I was a transplant from Green Trails when Highcroft opened in 1977. In 1979 my father was tragically killed while working for McDonnell Douglas. During the next 3 yrs, Dr. Overfelt made sure I had a male role models to look up to at Highcroft, starting with himself. He gave me plenty of “rose rug” time when I was doing well, and not so well. I believe he was instrumental in ensuring Mr. Zona and Mr. Brumby were my 5 & 6th grade teachers, and they followed through by believing & investing in me. He helped my mom get back into education and on her way to a career as a Teacher in Parkway to help support her two boys. You won’t find this in the Principal job description, yet he did it anyway because that’s who Richard was. I wish the world had more people like Richard Overfelt, what a wonderful world it would be.

  22. Lisa Peterson on January 14, 2022 at 7:38 pm

    Rest In Peace, dear Richard. Thank you for your life-changing classes. You made me a better teacher, but more importantly a better person.

  23. Arlene Spector on January 20, 2022 at 10:11 pm

    No words can describe my love, respect and appreciation for Richard. He was the best, and he supported the teachers while helping to teach the kids. I still treasure hhis handwritten notes on yellow paper even after tetirement. He was a mentor and a friend. How fortunate for teachers who got to work with him and try to help students reach their potential/teachers, too! He was loved and will forever be remembered. Thanks for the joyous memories! Love, Arlene Spector

  24. Janet Kerpan on January 26, 2022 at 11:58 am

    Dr. Overfelt renewed my life in everyway possible! After teaching all day, I went to his classes with joy! When I finished taking every class that he offered, I felt loss!
    He graduate classes were uplifting, positive, and I achieved great knowledge from him. Believe me, I have taught under some “not so good”administrators. He would always lift me up after a bad dayor I would remember his kind words “children first” to get through the day!

    Your genuine caring and smiles will be remembered and missed! You are the BEST person
    I know! Rest In Peace, Richard, knowing how much you touched educators lives!

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