photo: adam weidenbach

In Memoriam

Dr. Joseph A. Ovick
Served on the board of directors of John Muir Land Trust from 2014 to 2017.

Dr. Joseph A. Ovick passed away unexpectedly on March 30, 2017. As a beloved member of the JMLT community and during his 45-year career as an educator, including 18 years as Superintendent of Schools for Contra Costa County, Joe was a passionate advocate for children and a dedicated champion for protecting our natural heritage for future generations. As a proud fourth generation resident of our region, Joe was fond of stating with obvious joy, "My four young grandchildren are sixth generation residents of this wonderful Bay Area!"

Joe received his BA and MS at San Jose State University and his doctorate at the University of La Verne. He started his career in education as a substitute teacher. He taught at a school for severely handicapped children, where he showed an aptitude for working in special education. Joe climbed the ranks of school administration before being named director of special education for Santa Clara County, and years later he took a similar post in Contra Costa. In 1996 he was appointed superintendent. Joe earned numerous honors and even has a Brentwood school named after him.

On the JMLT board Joe was known for his warm smile, sense of humor, candor, and grounded common sense. “Joe’s words were always wise and his presence in the room lightened everyone’s mood. We miss him terribly,” said Linus Eukel, executive director of John Muir Land Trust. “Joe was one of those rare people who dedicated his life to making the world around him a better place for all of us.”

The JMLT community expresses our deepest condolences to his family. The 2017 Pure Muir Gala is dedicated to his memory. Joe is survived by his wife, Debbie; sons Jon and Bjorn, both married; and four grandchildren.