Archived Story

Couple brings back a little Norway to Austin

Published 5:01am Sunday, June 30, 2013
Bud and Wanda Overby stand in front of the Viking ship Bud carved for Wanda at their home. The Overbys got the idea for the Viking ship after they took a trip to Norway and Sweden last summer. Trey Mewes/

Bud and Wanda Overby found a new way to honor their roots this summer.

Bud, 85, created a 7-foot long Viking ship in time for his wife’s 80th birthday this month, to commemmorate their visit to Norway and Sweden last year to learn more about their heritage. The ship, which sits in the Overby’s front yard on their Oakland Avenue East property, acts as a flower bed for Wanda’s plants.

“It’s quite a sight,” Wanda said.

Bud Overby designed a homemade Viking ship for his wife based on actual Viking ships the Overbys saw in a museum in Norway last summer. Trey Mewes/
Bud Overby designed a homemade Viking ship for his wife based on actual Viking ships the Overbys saw in a museum in Norway last summer. Trey Mewes/

The longtime Austin couple had no idea they would ever visit Europe, let alone create a Viking ship, before relatives from across the Atlantic Ocean contacted them last year as part of a geneology project.

“They were learning about their relatives,” Bud said. “They invited us over for a family reunion, which was very nice.”

The couple went to Europe with some of their grown children on a two-week vacation over the summer in 2012, though they can’t remember exactly when they traveled. While in Norway, Bud and Wanda visited the village where Bud’s ancestors lived, and Bud even saw the farm where his grandfather, Christian Overby, was born.

“It was still standing and just as nice the day we saw it as it was when he lived there,” Bud said.

Though the family reunion was nice — Bud and Wanda befriended more than 100 fellow Overbys — it was a trip to a museum in Sweden that really stood out. There, Bud and Wanda saw a large Viking ship, hundreds of years old, which served as the impetus for Bud’s birthday gift.

“I just liked the design,” Wanda said.

Bud set to work on the ship, working this past winter and finishing the giant flower bed in time for Wanda’s birthday in early June.

“It was supposed to only be 4 feet, but I just kept going,” Bud said with a laugh.

The Overby’s ship has attracted a lot of attention thus far. Bud and Wanda’s children dug a rock garden in the front of their parents’ yard for the Overbys to display their treasure, and a friend even donated what appears to be an actual metal anchor. Wanda also hung a Norwegian flag atop the ship’s mast, so the Overbys can display their heritage.

The Overbys may not have plans to go sailing with their newfound ship, but they’re pleased with how it turned out.

“It got a little bigger than I had planned, but it worked out good,” Bud said.


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