Photo by Bruce Guthrie
Photo by Bruce Guthrie
November 6, 2020

In Memoriam: John Franzén

The Overbeck Project notes with sadness the passing of Steering Committee chairman and visionary leader John Franzén on November 1, 2020. Franzén’s recorded interviews with historian Ruth Ann Overbeck prior to her death in 2000 provided the inspiration for this oral history project.

Building on the depth and value of those first interviews, Franzén and sponsors in the Capitol Hill Community Foundation envisioned a project to collect oral histories of Capitol Hill citizens to create a many-voiced narrative across generations.

The success of this project owes much to Franzén. He planned with wisdom and energy, engaging community support and consulting with professional oral historians to achieve the highest professional standards. He recruited dedicated leaders and volunteers for the project and led its Steering Committee until his death. The more than 200 interviews on this website attest to his accomplishments.

To supplement the oral history program, Franzén organized a lecture series in 2002 so that serious, scholarly talks on Capitol Hill history would be available to the community. With extraordinary dedication, he planned and managed four lectures each season for nearly 15 years, achieving a high standard of excellence that we strive to maintain.

In all of these activities, Franzén was guided by his belief that a community must understand its own history in order to prepare wisely for its future. He devoted his skills and energy to capturing and sharing knowledge of the past of Capitol Hill, contributing immeasurably to the life of the community.

The story of John's own life and accomplishments is published in the Hill Rag.

News Archive