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 Ben and Jeanne Overman Distinguished Speakers Series

Ann Bancroft at UMD

Ann Bancroft: March 29, 2006 | Speakers Series | Ben and Jeanne Overman

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Overman Lecture: Ann Bancroft:
Skiing Antarctica’s Landmass --- March 29, 2006

Ann Bancroft will tell her inspirational and motivational story at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29, 2006 in UMD's Weber Music Hall in Duluth. In the inaugural Ben and Jeanne Overman Distinguished Speakers lecture, made possible by the Ben and Jeanne Overman Charitable Trust, Bancroft will share her childhood dream and the culmination of that dream as she and Liv Arnesen became the first women in history to ski across Antarctica’s landmass.

Beginning November 13, 2000, Bancroft and Arnesen skied and sailed across Antarctica for 94 days and 1,717 miles, pulling 250-pound sleds full of food and equipment, enduring temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit and winds gusting up to 100 miles per hour.

Ann and Liv's new book No Horizon Is So Far (Perseus Publishing, 2003) provides a detailed account of their journey across Antarctica.

Historic still and video footage of Antarctica and Ann's amazing experiences will provide insights on subjects that challenge all of us on a daily basis. Photo: Ann Bancroft.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Complimentary refreshments will be served. For more information and for a group of 10 or more call: Lisa at 218-726-7164 or Maryann 218-726-8993. Ann Bancroft’s website is

About the Speakers Series
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The Ben and Jeanne Overman Distinguished Speakers Series will provide unique opportunities for students and members of the Duluth and area communities to hear speakers from many walks of life, from the region as well as from around the world. It will also present lecturers considered to be experts in their field.

Potential speakers are people who have become successful in their field of endeavor and then use that success to help others, i.e., people who have had personal accomplishments and now give back to their community. The Speakers Series is free and open to the public. The Speakers Series invites involvement from school children from the 6th grade throughout high school, as well as from members of the Duluth Boys and Girls Clubs.

The Ben and Jean Overman Trust Board Members, the people who set up this speakers series, include Jane L. Overman, James O. Sher, Steven B. Goldfine, Beverly Betten Goldfine, and Manley Goldfine.

About Ben and Jeanne Overman
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Jeanne and Ben Overman recognized that the people of this region of Minnesota gave them the opportunity to forge long and wonderful lives. The Overman's were well known for their good deeds and gifts to the community. During their lives, they created a tool, a charitable trust that bears their name, to continue this work. Each year, the trust provides meaningful support to educational and religious institutions, organizations that help young people build the foundation of productive lives, and to groups that help those in need of the most basic necessities. During the past decade, the trust has provided over $1 million in grants to over 60 worthy causes in the Twin Ports.

Ben Overman (1903-1990) was fond of saying "The harder you work, the luckier you get." For over seventy years, Ben worked hard, and today this community continues to be luckier for it. Born in what is now Russia, Ben was brought to Superior, Wisconsin when his father got work at a chair factory in South Superior. The Overmans lived in such poverty that it was necessary to heat their house with the coal dropped from trains, which Ben and his sisters picked up along nearby railroad tracks. By the time he was 10, Ben was helping to support his family by selling newspapers. He worked so hard at selling newspapers that by the time he was 16 he had earned all the ‘badges’ necessary to sell all the local newspapers on the streetcars, and soon had other young people working for him. Ben became his family's primary provider but still managed to find time to complete his high school education. As his hard work continued, new opportunities presented themselves. First he was able to acquire additional concessions, then a variety of retail businesses. Eventually he was able to learn the finance and real estate businesses from which his greatest financial success was later achieved.

Jeanne Overman (1904-1988), too, grew up in poverty, and began working at a young age. By the time she was a high school junior, she was working as a secretary at Diamond Tool Co. Her excellent skills eventually earned her the position of executive secretary to Col. Henry, the longtime business manager of the Duluth Herald. She held this position for many years, until she quit working to raise a family. Always astute in financial matters, Jeanne boasted that her claim to fame was that she sold her entire (although rather small) portfolio the day before the market crashed in 1929.

For sixty years, Jeanne and Ben built on their early successes. Leaders in business and in the Twin Ports Jewish community, their lives were rooted in the Jewish concept of 'Tzedakah’, the commandment that requires those who can afford to, must help those who are less fortunate. This resulted in innumerable good deeds. Almost certainly, the one from which they derived the most pleasure was their donation of the original building to house the Duluth Boys Club (now the Boys and Girls Club) and their ongoing support of that organization, which continues to this day. As years went by, they received many honors, including honorary doctorates from the College of St. Scholastica, of which they were particularly proud, because it acknowledged their commitment to helping young people earn college educations, something their own circumstances did not allow them to pursue. Toward this end, scholarships are granted annually, in their names, to outstanding students at the College of St. Scholastica, the University of Minnesota Duluth, and the University of Minnesota Duluth Medical School.

The Overman's lives were built on the interrelationship and mutual dependence of achieving success while providing sustenance to others in return. It is the objective of the Ben and Jeanne Overman Lecture Series to demonstrate the ongoing importance of this relationship by presenting individuals whose accomplishments and good works serve as living examples to everyone.

Written by Cheryl Reitan

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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