Overturf Family named CCN 2017 Family of the Year

Ken and Nancy Overturf of Edgar were selected as the 2017 Clay County News Family of the Year. Here, they stand with a 1961 International 560 tractor, with various other tractors belonging to the Overturfs surrounding them.

By Ashley D. Swanson
Modest and humble are not the only two words that describe Ken and Nancy Overturf of Edgar, but they fit the words well.
The Overturfs were shocked to find that they had been selected for the fourth annual Clay County News’ Family of the Year, but said they are thankful for the nomination.
The duo was selected due to their involvement with activities and organizations outside of their own town, including Old Trusty Days, serving in capacities of the Clay County Historical Society, but also being heavily involved in their church and community events.
In the nomination letter it stated: “Although the two live outside of Edgar, they are always up for helping anyone from any town in Clay County. Their unwavering kind hearts are just a phone call away…the Overturfs are one of the wonderful couples that helps Clay County keep that welcome-home warm feeling that the towns give strangers every day. They are always up for a conversation, always ready to lend a helping hand, and they’re not too shy at welcoming new folks to the area.”
The Overturfs have always lived in Clay County, growing up just a few miles north of Edgar, in the same section of land. And although their fathers worked together on a thrashing crew, Ken and Nancy (then a Buerer) didn’t really know each other. When the prairie school closed, the two were separated, with Nancy attending and graduating from Clay Center, and Ken attending Edgar’s school, where he eventually graduated from.
It wasn’t until Ken’s senior year, in 1960, that he noticed Nancy enough to go in and talk to her while she was working at the Midway Café in Edgar.
They married on April 4, 1963, and have two children, Jeff, who resides in Edgar, and Julie Cochran, who resides in California. Another person whom the Overturfs consider their kid is Nancy’s nephew Tim, who came to live with them after Tim’s dad passed away. He lived with them for the final three years of high school, and currently works for Jeff.
Tractors are a huge part of the Overturfs lives, with Ken participating in several tractor pulls throughout the year.
With about 15 and 10 years under their belts, respectively, Nancy and Ken also help out with Old Trusty festivities each year.
“What they try to do is get a delegate board member from each area and Irvin Wenske had been in there since day one, and he was going to go off of it so then they had me go on,” Nancy said, who has been on the board for about 15 years.
“Bob and them run the tractor drive and he asked me to help them; I helped them several years. I ended up with the job,” Ken said.
“John Taylor helps you with it,” Nancy added.
Along with helping set up and running parts of Old Trusty, Ken also participates in the annual tractor pulls. He began tractor pulling in 1974, and has a basement full of plaques and other awards to prove it. His areas of tractor pulling include Deweese, Edgar, Clay Center (for Old Trusty), Fairmont, Milligan, and Platte Valley. He has also participated in York and at the state fair in the past.
Ken pulls three different types of International models, and owns about 20 tractors, his favorite being a 1954 Super M TA International, which his father bought brand new.
“I learned to drive that tractor, first tractor I ever owned, and I’ve still got it,” Ken said. “I was 12 years old then, when I started in the field.”
Ken has always been self-employed.
“I farm and then I moved a lot of dirt. I cut a lot of silage over the years; custom dirt work and custom silage.”
Nancy also helped out in the field from time-to-time, disking ahead of him, often times with a baby strapped into the seat behind her with a tea towel, so he couldn’t move.
“And they were entertained. Before we knew it they were asleep and laying on your back,” Nancy said.
“I have had some careers besides taking care of Kenny,” Nancy said, followed by an agreeable shaking of the head from Ken and some laughter.
Right out of high school, Nancy was given the opportunity to work for Mr. and Mrs. Tice, who owned the Commercial State Bank in Clay Center.
“I never regretted it. They were such wonderful people to work for.”
Later, when Ken and Nancy started their family, she quit working for the bank for a little bit, before she found herself back working at the bank until she moved over to the courthouse in 1988, after being appointed deputy county clerk. She served as the clerk until 1999, and then worked at the courthouse a second time in January 2003 until February 2005, as the deputy clerk fill-in while the new clerk transitioned in. To this day, Nancy is still on-call for the clerk’s office, and at one point, also worked part-time in the treasurer’s office, but no longer does the latter.
While Ken ran the farm, Nancy also worked as a cosmetologist.
At this time, Nancy was working at the bank and was asked to help out in the beauty shop of the former Edgar Nursing Home, to which she would do hair, shave men, and do manicures for residents.
“It was very rewarding,” she said.
Nancy’s cosmetology job was based out of their current home back then, which they built in 1973. They’ve only lived in three houses during their almost-55 years of marriage. Their honeymoon house was in Ong, where they resided for five years before moving just a quarter of a mile south of their current home; again, they resided there for five years.
Their current home, north of Edgar, took a year to construct and everything on the property was built up from scratch, including the large amount of trees planted on the property; there was nothing on the property when they bought the land. The main construction of the house was done by Richard Sinek and his brother John, while Ken worked on installing the electrical, plumbing, and heating system.
While the kids were growing up, the Overturfs have hosted four foreign exchange students, including one from Africa, another from Nicaragua, and then two at the same time—Germany and Japan.
The last two the Overturfs said they were only supposed to be hosting the student from Germany, but then they received a call from the Hebron office asking if they could also host the student from Japan, as that student’s host family had backed out. The two agreed they would host the student until another host family was found, but when they arrived home, the student asked if they could be his host family. After making sure it was OK with their German student,  and since the Japanese student was only there for the summer in the 4-H program, it became official, and the Overturfs welcomed their fourth exchange student.
Over the years, their list of activities and organizations they’re involved with grew. Nancy is currently on the board for the Clay County Historical Society, which includes the museum and Old Trusty, while Ken can often be found volunteering at events hosted by the organization.
In the past year, Ken, Nancy, and John Taylor were a huge part in physically taking apart the Saronville Post Office and moving it over to the Clay County Museum in Clay Center, after the post office closed.
“That was a big project,” Nancy said. “We ram-rodded that along with John Taylor, and Lee Sherman helped put it together.”
“That was quite a project and it turned out nice,” Ken added.
They are dedicated members of the Church of the Plains, where Ken is a part of the ground committee in charge of mowing the grass and keeping the lawn in good shape; both have served in many offices in the church.
As the two are, for the most part, retired, they do have quite a few hobbies they enjoy.
“Nancy likes to cook and does a lot of canning out of the garden,” Ken said.
She also makes bread from scratch on a regular basis.
Over the years, Ken has enjoyed hunting pheasants, deer, and elk.
Traveling is also something the couple does often, taking a vacation to Hawaii each year, and they’ve visited places overseas such as Australia and Africa. The trip to Kenya, Africa was one of Ken’s favorites, as they were able to see various kinds of birds and different types of animals on a safari.
To this day, their roots still run deep in the county, with four generations of the family attending the same church in Edgar (they have five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren), and their involvements with organizations throughout the county not faltering anytime soon.
“We think we are so blessed because we have a lot of faith, and a beautiful family, and an abundance of good friends who would do anything for you,” Nancy said.
“We’ve had a good life so far,” Ken added.

A Side Note:
Nancy said her most rewarding project she’d been involved in was in 2000, when the Angels for Traci Project came about.
The project occurred following the disappearance of Traci Kenley and friend Bill Rundle.
The idea came from when Nancy’s father passed away, she received an angle pin, which Nancy then gave to Sharon, Traci’s mom.
That pin led to an idea to gather a host of angles for the Kenley family, resulting in more than 200 angles being placed on a seven-foot pencil tree at the Church of the Plains.
The tree was eventually moved to Sharon’s beauty shop in downtown Edgar.

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