Obituary: James Telfer Oswalt Jr.

December 18, 1940 – February 4, 2023

James Telfer Oswalt Jr., 82, of Mitchell, passed away Saturday, February 4, 2023, at the Indiana University Hospice House in Bloomington.

Born December 18, 1940, in Muncie, he was the son of Dr. James T. and E. Lucille (Turner) Oswalt.  He married Barbara Tirey on March 21, 1998.

James was a teacher, school administrator, and community volunteer. He earned several degrees from Indiana University including his bachelor’s degree in 1963, his master’s degree in 1966, and his specialist degree in 1977.  James began his career as an educator with Mitchell Community Schools where he taught English at Mitchell High School from 1963 to 1972. He then became the Assistant Principal and Acting Principal for Mitchell High School from 1972 to 1976.  James continued his career as the Assistant Superintendent from 1976 to 1984 and then as the Superintendent of Mitchell Community Schools from 1984 until his retirement in 2004.    

Along with his career in education, James also worked as a volunteer and member of many community organizations, serving on several boards of directors.  He was a member of the boards of Hoosier Uplands Economic Development Corporation, the Lawrence County Community Foundation, the Community Foundation Partnership, the Lawrence County Board of Health, the Bedford Regional Medical Center, and the Mitchell Community Scholarship Foundation.  James also held several leadership offices within the Lawrence County Community Foundation as Vice President from 2006 to 2007 and President in 2008, Chairperson of the Board of Development Committee from 2006 to 2007, and as a member of the Grants Committee in 2006.  He was also a member of the Lilly Scholarship Selection Committee from 2005 to 2007.  James served on leadership committees within Hoosier Uplands as a member of the Finance Committee, the Planning Committee, and the Executive Committee from 2005 to 2007.  He was also a member of the Indiana Association of Retired Public School Superintendents and the Indiana Retired Teachers Association. 

Throughout his career, James received several recognitions and honors including being awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash Award, Mitchell Citizen of the Year in 1997 and 2003, Persimmon Festival Parade Grand Marshal in 2005, and the Indiana District VII Superintendent of the Year in 2004.  James was also a lover of history and enjoyed reading.  He was of the Christian Faith.

Surviving is his children, Alice Oswalt of Bloomington, Rebecca Thacker of Bloomington, Vincent (Jessica) Oswalt of Cumming, Georgia; grandchildren, Megan Oswalt of Jersey City, New Jersey, Ryan Oswalt, of Cumming, Georgia, and Lenzy Bass of Cumming, Georgia; sister, Evelyn J. Williams (Robert) of Mitchell; and his nephews.

His parents and wife preceded him in death.

The family will receive friends on Thursday, February 9th, from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel of Chastain Funeral Home & Cremation Center. A private graveside service in Mitchell Cemetery will be conducted at a later date.

Memorial gifts can be made to The James and Barbara Oswalt Foundation.

Condolences may be sent to the family at