Theresa Overfield 2011

Adventurer and Scientist

Being Catholic has always been part of Theresa Overfield's life. She was raised in Western New York where the population was sixty-five percent Catholic. She went to Catholic grammar school (Saint Paul's School), Catholic High School (Mount Saint Mary's Academy), and Catholic College (D'Youville College). Only kindergarten and graduate school were not in Catholic schools.

Her first job after College was as Itinerant Public Health Nurse for twenty three Eskimo Villages on the Lower Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers in Alaska. Here she again saw Catholics in action. Jesuit priests and Ursuline nuns ran missions and a High School. After two years, stationed in Bethel, Alaska she left to get a Master's in Public Health from Columbia University then returned to Alaska as Epidemiologist with Arctic Health Research Center in Anchorage. After three years traveling all over Alaska, she left for the Lower 48 to become a Communicable Disease Nursing Consultant for the Colorado Department of Health. While in Denver, she read a bulletin board in the Medical Center that mentioned grants for nurses to obtain Ph. D.'s in fields compatible with nursing. She applied and got the government to finance her for five years for a Ph. D. in Physical Anthropology, with the stipulation that upon graduation she teach in a College of Nursing for five years. She taught (University of Utah and Brigham Young University) for the next twenty or so years until she retired; always maintaining that being a college professor was much easier than working in the real world. She loved teaching and research but disliked committee work. She published quite a few articles and two books. She taught an honors course titled Biologic Variation, in Health and Illness, which with amplification, became a book.

All through the years Theresa was hiking, backpacking, climbing mountains, ski mountaineering, gardening, and having a good time. On a Mountain Club outing she met David Morris and they were married for twenty-six years. He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS) and during the seven years of his gradual decline their life changed drastically. After his death, she resumed hiking but gave up backpacking and climbing really high mountains. She then moved from Salt Lake City to Southern Utah where she doesn't have to shovel snow or cut grass. She attends Saint Paul's, a mission church in Hurricane in the winter and Saint Sylvester's, another Mission Church in Escalante, where she gardens an acre of land at her second home.

When Theresa decided to set up an endowment, it made sense to her to fund rural church development and Seminarian education (Rural Churches seem to be the place where many new priests get their
first experiences. She's watched several new priests go on to bigger parishes and broader duties).