Bjarne (BJ, "The Old Viking") passed away peacefully March 10 at Deaconess Hospital, after a stubborn week-long battle against pneumonia. He had recently celebrated his 101st birthday. He was preceded in death by his wife Hildred, parents Erland and Marit Overlie, sister Ragna Beck and brothers Edward and Theodore Overlie. He is survived by his sister Inga Labes (Lind, WA), brother Pete (Pasco, WA) sons Vaughn (Spokane), Earl and wife Bonnie (Cheney), grandchildren Lindsey (Cheney) and Brian (Spokane) and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins scattered across the country.
Born in Pasco in 1908, Bjarne was the first of six children of Norwegian immigrants who met and married in the U.S. His father, an employee of the Northern Pacific RR, uprooted the family and moved them to eastern Montana where he filed a homestead claim near Terry in 1910. By 1922, drought, crop failures and grasshopper plagues finally forced sale of the homestead and a return to Pasco. Bjarne graduated from Pasco High School in 1928 where his participation in athletics (he earned letters in football, basketball and track) would instill in him a lifelong love of sports.
After high school, Bjarne followed his father into work for the Northern Pacific RR. He began as a section laborer and gradually worked his way into management. His work included stops in Pasco, Glendive, Montana and finally Spokane where he retired in 1973 from the Burlington Northern RR as a highly respected expert in track work. Along the way he married a Montana girl, Hildred (Susie) James in 1938 and sadly saw her pass away in 2001, he raised 2 sons that he proudly watched conclude successful careers, and he became the longest-lived of a family noted for its longevity.
Retirement found Bjarne in his shop working with wood, traveling with his wife all over the country, spoiling his grandchildren, entertaining family and friends with a century of memories, or attending sporting events all over the state. He was a great fan of Shadle Park’s basketball and volleyball teams and attended nearly every Gonzaga Men’s basketball home game for the past 5 years.
Bjarne was made of strong Scandinavian stock, yet a gentle soul liked by all who met him. He will be greatly missed.
A celebration of Bjarne’s life will be held at Hazen & Jaeger Funeral Home, 1306 N. Monroe in Spokane, WA on Saturday, April 18, 2009 at 2:00 pm. The family requests in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Shriners’ Childrens’ Hospital.