Mary Susan Muelhaupt Overbey
1933 - 2016
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Mary Susan Muelhaupt Overbey

Austin, TX

Mom always told us, "Celebrate quick before something happens!" We celebrated a lot in our lives because she always made things happen. On Sunday afternoon, August 21, 2016, Mom showed us a whole new way to celebrate. With her huge family all around singing, praying, telling stories, laughing, crying and being together, she stepped into the arms of her Savior and into Heaven. Quite a celebration is happening there now!

On October 4, 1933, in Pittsburgh, Sue was the first of six children born to Dorothy Josephine O'Shea and Edward Charles Muelhaupt. She adored them and her brothers, Chuck and Joe (who we believe all welcomed her into heaven), along with her sisters Sarah and Juliet, and her baby brother John Paul. Growing up in her Catholic Irish German family in Des Moines was the rock from which this splendid woman launched into the world.

Graduating from the all-girls St. Joseph's Academy in 1951, she was renowned for being cast as the male lead in plays because she was so tall. She proudly attended her mother's alma mater, St. Mary of the Woods College in Terre Haute, Indiana, for two years before transferring to the University of Nebraska ('55) where she pledged Theta and majored in studio art with a teacher's certificate. Go Big Red!

Mom had a passion for reaching and moving people, which made her a fabulous teacher! She taught for a year in Des Moines before getting married to Joe Gifford. His career in the oil business took her all over the world! From Tulsa, to Wichita, to New Orleans where she taught thousands of children how to be a "Do Bee" not a "Don't Bee" as a Romper Room teacher on TV. [She landed the job by discovering that the interview included plugging a toy that was broken, which flustered all the other candidates.] Then the network made a show just for Mom -- Princess Susan's Magic Birthday Land. Her daughters, Sally and Susie, were in total awe to see their Mom in full "Grace Kelly-mode" high up on her own Mardi Gras float! "Throw me something, mama!" When Mom got pregnant, the TV station had a witch turn her into a large tree with only a hole for her face so as not to cause scandal.

When her son Daniel was six weeks old , Sinclair Oil transferred us to Algiers where dad found oil in the Sahara Dessert and Mom used her French (which she had thought a useless subject in high school) to buy milk and baby food in the market. After having shot a trespassing Algerian rebel climbing over our wall, she figured she had done her part and moved to the Latin Quarter in Paris with her three children, realizing a life long dream of a pretty girl from Iowa. Paris was dazzling and exciting, even with four littles in tow, Charles Pierre having entered the scene.

How West Texas lured us away from Paris is hard to fathom, but Mom jumped in to our move to Midland with both feet, putting on shows as a Junior League volunteer with puppets she made from paper mache, and then becoming the most beloved art teacher at Trinity. Midland surprised us with fine and beautiful friendships.

The year 1969 was one of significant upheaval with a remarriage to John Overbey, whom she loved with all her heart, and whom we called "Papa", welcoming Kirk and Kathy as new siblings, and a "great adventure" to Anchorage. At the extreme end of the world, we were stunned by the beauty of the landscape and the people. Mom tuned into the children again creating the hands-on "I See Me" exhibit at the children's museum, and she was active on the committee to move the capital from Juneau, which is virtually inaccessible, to a master-planned community designed by I. M. Pei in Willow.

In 1980, John's heart rebelled at the sight of a bear coming between him and six-year-old O'Shea as they were salmon fly fishing, so after triple bypass surgery he was ready to come back to Texas. During the Memorial Day flood of '81, they found the Austin home we all call The Big House which has now had a third generation splash in the pool and joke around the dining room table. Mom's sixth child, Dorothy, is only four years older than her first grandchild, Kate, so merriment and mischief abounded continuously! Dorothy's fervor for dance and music became Mom's, too.

You may not know it, but layers and layers of prayers are stuck to the walls in our home, as Mom would tell you. She dedicated the house to Jesus and asked that all who enter be blessed in some way. You may have fallen victim to one of Mom's childhood traditions -- the Easter Egg Cracking Contest. So your blessing may have been a live animal prize, or the runny yolk of an egg not fully cooked. Or you may have been fed in body and soul at one of the many talks given by humble and holy people. Or discussed literature and life with the Ladies of the Club that she started in 1985. Or expounded on the interconnectedness of butterflies and plants with the Sustainers Garden Workshop. Or talked politics. Or strategize on how to save the babies!

The project she threw herself most completely into was Believe in ME! A program in collaboration with the National Dance Institute for at-risk students, which not only worked, but matched her exuberance with those of the children dancing with abandon! Everywhere she went she moved people. She could do it by just walking into the room, but she never stopped there!

She was not your typical grandma! Coming over meant you risked getting caught up in her latest project, or drawn into a serious conversation about the state of your soul. She believed in people and was extremely generous in providing opportunities to expand. All of our family had to take a Dale Carnegie public speaking course, and most recently Krav Maga self defense. With 18 grandchildren the possibilities were endless - climbing, riding, scouting, traveling, dancing, college. Action was more important than things to her, so we took big family trips. Keeping us all together was of prime importance. Her greatest wish is that we all get to heaven and she could get pushy about it. And its not limited to family!

So now this dynamic, energetic, personal, generous and gorgeous woman, our mother, grandmother, sister, and friend is waiting for us. All of us! Her family understood from the beginning that we shared her with you! She is a treasure that would not be contained. A present to us all. Let's be a mirror to the celebration of her that is happening above!

Susan is survived by her sisters, Juliet Bliss and Sarah Elliott, her brother John Paul Muelhaupt, seven children all of Austin, Kirk Overbey (Lisa), Susie Locker (Karl), Sally Robb (Brad), Daniel Gifford (Debra), Charlie Gifford (Liz), O'Shea Gifford (J.R.), Dorothy Overbey (Mac); and 18 grandchildren. Her parents, Dorothy and Ed Muelhaupt, her brothers, Chuck and Joe Muelhaupt, her stepdaughter, Kathy, and her grandchildren, John and Emily Overbey, welcomed her into heaven. Her family was not limited to blood relatives - you know who you are!

Please join us for the Rosary on Friday, August 26th at 7 PM and the Funeral Mass at 9:30 AM on Saturday, August 27th both at St. Mary's Cathedral, 203 E. 10th Street. The Rite of Committal will follow at Capital Parks Cemetery, 14501 North IH-35, Pflugerville. Then the reception at The Big House, 3413 Southill Circle, Austin, 78703. The family has elected not to wear black in honor of Mom's motto to "Celebrate quick!" Follow your own heart.

Thanks to Mom's cadre of wonderful doctors, nurses, and caregivers extraordinaire. Thanks to all of you for loving our mother! She loves you, too!

In lieu of flowers, you may make a donation to Texas Alliance for Life at or your favorite charity, and accept a big spiritual hug from Mom!

Obituary and memorial guestbook available online at

Arrangements by Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, Austin, TX - (512) 452-8811

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in the Des Moines Register on Aug. 24, 2016.
Funeral Mass
09:30 AM
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Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North - Austin
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27 entries
December 1, 2018
Dear Suzan I am still in your dept and it is so hard to feel the things about God you and I knew together in Alaska . Suzan I wish and pray that you are safe with all who went before . Love Peace and Hope all our owned by you Suzan wishing to see you again. Your friend forever Mark Anthony Gumley
mark gumley
Family Friend
August 29, 2016
Don't know your family, but stumbled across this obituary at ADN. What a wonderful tribute, loved it! May her memory continue to bless you all and always warm your hearts! (From a fellow one-time Alaskan)
Chantel AK
August 28, 2016
(I would like to extend my sincerest condolences to the family of ...... I am very sorry for your loss. Please be comforted by the hope that you will see your loved one again in the very near future. (Hosea13:14) Please accept my deepest sympathy.
August 28, 2016
Sue Overbey was one of the most influential teachers I had at Trinity School in Midland. She was a gifted art teacher. Sue allowed us young kids to pursue our dreams and develop whatever modest talents we might have had. She instilled a love of art in me that has lasted my lifetime. She was effervescent, beautiful, reassuring, kind and generous. I have thought of her often over the years and am saddened to learn of her passing. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.
Dean Rucker
August 27, 2016
What a memorable and saintly woman Mrs. Overbey was. She was a great supporter of our religious community in Anchorage. And even after she moved back to Texas she would still order Catholic books from us. I learned about her death from a cousin who had met Dorothy on a few occasions. The world is getting smaller all the time.
Sr Clare Stephen
August 27, 2016
Miss Muelhaupt taught me at Lincoln. I was in 7th grade and I thought absolutely no one could be better than her. She remained my favorite teacher to this day. I remember how upset our class was when she left us to get married. I am so thrilled to see that her life was so wonderful and that she touched so many lives along the way.
Judy Bills
August 27, 2016
My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Susan has been a friend and great 'prayer support' to me over the years. Fr Kirby Garner
August 27, 2016
So saddened to hear of Susan's passing but so happy she is in heaven with all her loved ones who greeted her there. May we, when out time comes, join her in the joy of out beloved Savior's arms. RIP Susan and thank you for your friendship.
Stella Trevino
August 26, 2016
Susan was one of those women who could sweep you up in a gala dream of making the world a better place for children, all children. Oh how I loved her, and learned so much from her. She was our inspiration and fearless leader in Anchorage as we worked to birth The Children's Museum. She threw lavish parties, and gave, and gave, and gave lavish and playful gifts. Oh, trust me, St. Peter has no idea! God bless your journey into the loving arms of our Lord, dear Susan, and may holy angels guide you into the way of peace. The Rev. Judith Lethin, Seldovia, Alaska
The Rev. Judith Lethin
August 26, 2016
We will miss Susan very much. She was our mentor and welcoming friend when we were graduate students at UT Austin. So glad we were able to spend an afternoon together with her this June. Our condolences to Sally and entire family. We will pray for Susan.
Alan and Emily Lemmon
August 26, 2016
She was one heck of a woman and a beautiful person. I also enjoyed sharing Jesus with her in our conversations. Jesus was her true love and she was a wonderful Catholic. She will be missed. God bless her family until you join up with her again. She will be praying for all of you.
Laura Anne Le Blanc
August 26, 2016
Every week I went to the prayer service in Susan's house, I couldn't wait to get there. She brought strength and a light to my life and I will miss her. I am grateful I got to pray with her. She is a saint. God bless her family and everyone who prayed with her.
Regina Lee
August 25, 2016
Susan brought her artistic and teaching skills into my classroom at Austin Montessori for 3 years, while her effervescent daughter Dorothy was a student. Susan was a shining example of love and spirit with amazing joy, energy and enthusiasm. She elicited astounding art from each student, and we all looked forward to her presence. I often witnessed her sitting in the car with Dorothy in the early morning, having a last minute conversation and quiet time together to start the day. She was ever so elegant and graceful. That grace will live on in the memories of all the students who were blessed by her presence in their lives. Phoebe Allen
Phoebe Allen
August 25, 2016
I will never forget Susan's sweet and soft voice which exuded true love and care for all. My sweet friend who loved Mother Mary and her Son, Jesus, with all of her heart. I treasure numerous Medjugorje CDs she gave me to listen to. We will miss her here, but Heaven gained a beautiful prayer warrior for us. My deepest sympathy is extended to her entire family. May her soul rest in peace with Our Blessed Mother, Our Lord Jesus, God Our Father and all of the angels and saints in Heaven.
Teresa Migl
August 25, 2016
Since leaving Austin in 1999, I have not seen Susan Overbey. I remember her, though, for her kindness and generosity. She hosted some marvelous Catholic discussions at her house. She loved Jesus, her Catholic faith, and her family very much. We pray for the repose of Susan's soul. May God, in His great mercy, receive her into the glory of the everlasting Kingdom. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary give comfort to her family during this time of mourning.

In Jesus and His all-holy Mother,

Robert Fastiggi, Dearborn Heights, MI
Robert Fastiggi
August 25, 2016
Susan was my Brownie and Girl Scout Troop Leader. Some of my favorite childhood memories were from those Tuesday afternoons at the house on Southill. Sending peace and love to her family, especially Dorothy.
Nicole Kralj
August 25, 2016
We first met Susan when Charlie & Liz moved to Austin, when we arrived at her home, she threw open her arms & said "Welcome, Welcome!" She was always so generous & gracious to us each time we saw her. Susan & I wrote back & forth for many yrs., mostly about our children. It gave me a sense of peace to know she was watching over them, "their TX Mom". A larger than life lady, she will be missed. You are all in our thoughts & prayers.
Don & Judie Van Nostrand
August 25, 2016
I send my prayers for the family and for my godmother Susan, My baptism in your swimming pool was a turning point for me in my life Susan. For that I will be eternally gateful. The love that you shared with me and many others is a spirit that will continue on. Peace in God and love, Andrew Bucknall
Andrew Bucknall
August 24, 2016
I was one of those fed physically and spiritually at Sue's table in the big house. She used to invite multitudes of people to her house as if it were the most natural thing. A gracious hostess, and a great lady.
She lived the Gospel to the full and proclaimed it from the rooftops. A fierce defender of the unborn, ever-present at the Prayer Vigils.
Rest in peace, Susan.
And, I second her beatification!
stasia demkowicz
August 24, 2016
I am sorry to hear that Mrs. Overbey has passed away. I always had pleasant memories visiting with Sally, Daniel and the rest of the family in Anchorage. i always enjoyed her words of wisdom and worldly outlook on life. My condolences to the Family. Uli Reich
Ulrich Reich
August 24, 2016
What a fabulous woman.
Steve and Debbie Truitt
August 24, 2016
Susan was a wonderful Southill Circle neighbor. When we moved down the street in 1993, our 10 yr. old son found a new friend and a great escape from chores and a troublesome big brother. We always knew where to find him - with Susan. She loved children!
Liz and Bill Geise
August 24, 2016
Beautiful person (just like you, Dorothy). All our love.
Sara & Seth
August 24, 2016
To the family. Your mom and grandmother, Susan, entered my life when I was at the lowest point I have ever experienced. I had all but abandoned hope. She told me, "I see the forces arrayed against you and I will stand by you and your family with prayer and action." There was no compelling reason for her to do so, but she did this without any equivocation or mental reservation. Susan advocated for me for two years, always ready to step up to vouch for me as need required. She gave up her time, fought traffic and navigated difficult paths for my benefit. I will never forget.

As attendees of the Easter egg cracking festivities, Susan provided my family and I with mirth and happiness, something sorely needed at that time.

On this sad day my heart is heavy. If I could beatify her, I would. Again, I will never forget. Requiescat in pace dear lady.

Chris Pearsall
August 24, 2016
I never tired of Susan's kind words and wisdom. May your memories sustain you during this sorrowful time. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. She will be missed...
Tait Palmer
August 24, 2016
Lucky me, i got to grow up beside Sue, THE perfect girl next door. =) She was the most beautiful girl and nicest person I knew. When i went to college we watched Sue participate on Two For The Money, Herb Shriner's quiz show. I loved little John Paul's always referring to Sue's upcoming wedding as The Marriage. The whole family was wondrous to our small one; I'm glad another Dorothy came along.
This obituary is wonderful--for Sue and family-- and for the rest of us who have lost touch. I'm sorry too about Chuck and Joe's deaths. My brother, Tom, was between Joe and Sarah, as I recall. Sending love and sympathy (along with my great memories) to all of you in Sue's family now.
Sue Sharp Johnson
August 24, 2016
I am compelled to send my condolences to Susan's family after reading the obituary in The Midland Reporter-Telegram. She was an extraordinary Christian woman and a real leader in her family or in whatever place she was living. Susan seemed to bless everyone with her beauty and energy. Thank you for sharing her life story.
Karen Walker
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