Scholarship in works to memorialize local nurse

Talks are underway to immortalize a Barnes County nurse with a scholarship at Valley City State University in her name.

Erma Overby passed away on June 4 at age 87. At a regular meeting of the Valley City-Barnes County Health District Board, board member Sharon Buhr called her “a champion of public health” and said the City-County Health District should honor her with a scholarship.

“She was so incredible in terms of bringing Barnes County into the common era for public health,” Burh said.

Burh said money would have to be raised to fund the scholarship, and would most likely be run through VCSU because the university now has nursing programs through the Dakota College at Bottineau. CCHD would need to raise $10,500 to establish the scholarship.

“I think it would be a nice way to honor Erma,” said CCHD director Theresa Will. “She really was the ‘Florence Nightengale’ of public health in Barnes County, but it would also be a good way for us to build a stronger public health relationship with our college, assuring that public health is key to the curriculum there.”

Overby was born Aug. 21, 1924, in St. Paul, Minn., and later moved to the Kathryn area when she was six years old. She graduated from Kathryn High School and received her teaching degree from Valley City State Teacher’s College before obtaining a three-year nursing degree from Hinsdale Hospital in Chicago. She worked for the Shriner’s Crippled Children’s Hospital as she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in public health nursing at the University of Minnesota.

She returned to Valley City and became the nurse for Valley City Schools, and worked with hospice care into her 80s.

Overby became director of the City-County Health District when the two departments merged in 1978. She was recognized by the state in 2004, receiving the Outstanding Service Award in Public Health.