• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Overstreet's death called 'a great loss'

Before Robert Breckinridge Overstreet became a judge, Alan George, fresh out of law school in 1981, worked with him at the law firm of McCauley, Elam, Overstreet and Graddy. “Just a keen intellect, very witty, just an extremely bright individual, very engaging in conversation,” said George of Overstreet, who died April 27. “I remember at the bar dinners, he would always regale us with stories and was actually one of the best joke-tellers I ever met.” In 1984, Overstreet was appointed by then-Gov. Martha Layne Collins to fill the unexpired term of District Judge David Knox, who’d been elected to circuit judge. Overstreet was later elected to a full term as district judge, then became a circuit judge after Knox was elevated to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Before holding those offices, Overstreet also served as a Versailles assistant city attorney, police court judge, and general counsel for Woodford Memorial Hospital. Overstreet was re-elected multiple times before retiring in October 2004, though he continued to serve as a senior judge, pinch-hitting for other judges, for years. George, by then Woodford County Attorney, appeared before the man nicknamed “Judge O” many times as a prosecutor. “(To) any litigant in his court, be it a criminal or civil case, he would be firm when he needed to be firm, but he was a very fair and caring judge,” George said. “He cared about those persons who appeared before him, and it wasn’t just a cattle call – get through one case and go to the next – he gave everyone the time and consideration that their case warranted and needed.” Assistant County Attorney Phyllis Mattingly knew Overstreet for decades and was asked to speak at the April 30 celebration of life service for the Perryville native. “He was a big softie,” Mattingly told the crowd. “As a judge, he could dispense bad news with humor and a commonsense approach that left defendants feeling as they had been treated royally even during sentencing. More than once, I actually heard a defendant in district court thank Judge Overstreet for what he had done for them, even as he imposed their sentence.” Mattingly said when she joined his law firm in 1981 as a third-year clerk, Overstreet was her chief mentor and supervisor, teaching her how to run titles, handle pleadings and get along with folks at the courthouse. “He was a great guy and a big help to a young, naïve attorney. He continued to illustrate those same qualities as he left our firm and became a judge. … Bob would never let on that he had held any position of authority or power. He was a humble person, but was clearly highly intelligent, witty and enjoyable to be round. At the risk of repeating myself, he was just a great guy,” Mattingly said. Mattingly said she and the entire staff of her law firm will greatly miss Overstreet dropping by the office from time to time to shoot the breeze. Overstreet is survived by his wife, Linda Bosse. They would have been married 40 years on Saturday. He was the son of Morris B. Overstreet and Bobbie Overstreet, and a member of Versailles Presbyterian Church. The couple was also active in community events, including the Magical Musical 4th of July performances. George summed up his friend’s passing by saying, “It’s a great loss to the legal community and the Woodford community as well.”

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