NASA's Overmyer makes Westlake proud
Col. Robert Overmyer, although born in Lorain, moved with his family to Canterbury Road in Westlake as a very young boy and always called Westlake home. Overmyer was a 1954 graduate of Westlake High School. He attended Baldwin-Wallace College, obtaining a degree in physics, and joined the Marine Corps after graduation. He entered flight school, and subsequently earned a master's degree in aeronautics.
In 1982, Overmyer was named pilot of a four man crew that was to be aboard the Columbia space shuttle that year. On Nov. 11, 1982, Overmyer commanded the Columbia Space Shuttle. It was on this mission that the first commercial satellite was launched.
In December 1982, Col. Robert Overmyer returned home in a convoy of cars that zig-zagged through Westlake, providing an opportunity for the Columbia shuttle pilot to again see the town where he grew up. The convoy stopped at Westlake High School where an assembly was held in his honor. Superintendent Roger Holmes introduced him as "Westlake's most honored graduate."
Overmyer spoke about his experience as a NASA astronaut and even showed some film of the other astronauts playing a game in space. He received a key to the city from Mayor Ted Busch, and talked about how he worked part time at Dean's Greenhouse while he was in high school. Over the next few days, Overmyer made presentations at almost all of Westlake’s schools.
On April 29, 1985, Col. Overmyer commanded a seven-man crew aboard the space shuttle Challenger – the same Challenger that suffered disaster, with a different crew aboard, the following January. In addition to launching two satellites, a 23-foot European space lab was in the cargo bay of Challenger. At the close of the mission, the tests performed yielded enough data to fill 44,000 journals of 200 pages each.
Col. Overmyer was on the team that studied the Challenger Disaster. In 1986, he retired from military service and NASA to work for McDonnell Douglas Space Systems. He died in 1996 while testing a new experimental aircraft, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.