705 W. Warren Street | (812) 849-2600 |

James Telfer Oswalt, Jr.Passing: February 4, 2023


Chastain Funeral Home

No Service


Chastain Funeral Home

February 9th @ 5:00pm-7:00pm


Mitchell Cemetery

At a later date

MITCHELL – James Telfer Oswalt, Jr., 82, 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 organization, 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 are 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 pm to 7:00 pm 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: The James and Barbara Oswalt Foundation

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22 Guest Comments

  1. Guest: Joseph & Pamela Vanzant | Lawrenceburg
    Date: February 25, 2023
    Evelyn& Rob, We are so sorry to hear of Jim's passing. We send thoughts and prayers to you and your family.
  2. Guest: Lisa Buck Tincher | Orleans, IN
    Date: February 10, 2023
    Evelyn, so sorry for your loss. Prayers for you and your family.
  3. Guest: Carey Wood | Mitchell IN
    Date: February 9, 2023
    James was a great person, l had him in my high school years, l graduated in 1975, & his father delivered me. Gone never forgotten, RIP
  4. Guest: Mike Hirsch | Lafayette, Indiana
    Date: February 8, 2023
    My freshman year at MHS, in 1968, Mr. O was my English teacher. He was very demanding and some rules could no be broken: No incomplete sentences and no using the vague "you" in a sentence were demanded. Doing either was an automatic F. I never got an F but still remember those rules fondly when I think of him. He also gave me some good advice about attending IU where I got my degree in 1976. RIP Mr. O.
  5. Guest: Glenda Ferguson | Paoli, Indiana
    Date: February 8, 2023
    Evelyn and Rob, Prayers for you and your family! When I received Teacher of the Year for Mitchell Schools, Mr. Oswalt (it didn't seem right to address him as Jim) drove my husband Tim and me to Indianapolis to accept the award at the recognition dinner. Our table was the last to be served. While our stomachs rumbled, we could hear the waiters approaching us. All of sudden, there was a noisy crash. Mr. Oswalt said, "There went our dinners! We will probably get hot dogs." A bit more time passed. Finally we were served. He said, "If we had gotten hot dogs, we'd really had a story to tell!" Evelyn, your brother had a special place in your heart. Hold on to all those good memories.
  6. Guest: Buck Walters | Bloomington IN
    Date: February 7, 2023
    My thought are with you Becky. Take care.
  7. Guest: Dana Dunbar | Mitchell
    Date: February 6, 2023
    I have known and had the pleasure and opportunity to work with Jim on a professional and personal basis for decades. I have always had the the upmost respect for him as a friend, administrator and community leader. Jim had a great sense of wit and a dedication to the Mitchell School system and the community. I valued our relationship. Brenda and I express our deepest sympathies to the family.
  8. Guest: Judy Yarbrough | Jasper, ind
    Date: February 6, 2023
    Evelyn, So sorry for your loss.
    Date: February 6, 2023
  10. Guest: Vickie Parks Lee | Mitchell. IN
    Date: February 6, 2023
    Evelyn and Rob, so sorry for your loss. Jim was a good man and a wonderful person who dedicated his life to teaching and the community he helped create. He followed in his father’s footsteps. Brothers are special people. Condolences to your family.
  11. Guest: Judy Yarbrough | Jasper, ind
    Date: February 6, 2023
    Evelyn, so sorry for your loss. Prayers to you and his family.
  12. Guest: Mary Drury | Simpsonville, Kentucky
    Date: February 6, 2023
    Heartfelt prayers for your family.
  13. Guest: Warren (Chip) Oswalt | Winter Haven, FL
    Date: February 6, 2023
    My deepest sympathies to all of Jim's family. He is my cousin. I didn't get to grow up around Jim as I lived in Colorado. I remember a time when he would have been in college and I was a little boy visiting Indiana. He took me for a ride in his VW Karmann Ghia if I remember the car correctly. It's a great memory for sure. Just me and Jim. I had the great fortune to meet up with him again in 2018 while my Son, Michael and I were visiting Indiana for the first time in too many years. So grateful I got to see him again. God bless you, Jim, rest in peace.
  14. Guest: Chris Clouse | Bloomington, IN
    Date: February 6, 2023
    So sorry for your loss. Your father was a good teacher. a good administrator and a very kind person. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
  15. Guest: Danielle Neff | Danville, IN
    Date: February 6, 2023
    Jim always went out of his way to make me feel like a part of the family. He was rare and will be missed.
  16. Guest: mark a moore | bedford in47421
    Date: February 6, 2023
    i have been friends with the oswalt family since 1971 they all was great friends mark
  17. Guest: Joyce Chenoweth | Mitchell, Indiana
    Date: February 6, 2023
    Jim was my senior year college preparatory English teacher. He was an excellent teacher. He and my dad had many laughs together over a period of several years. Later Jim became Superintendent and was my boss of many bosses. He always had a twinkle in his eyes and a grin ready to burst forth.
  18. Guest: Nelsa King | Mitchell, Indiana
    Date: February 6, 2023
    Becky so sorry for your loss, Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
  19. Guest: Janet I Noe | Mitchell
    Date: February 5, 2023
    Evelyn and Rob, was sorry to read about this. My love and sympathy is with you at this time.
  20. Guest: Patty Cottengain | Orleans IN
    Date: February 5, 2023
    I'm so sorry for your loss. I will always remember Mr and Mrs. Oswalt waltzing at our prom. They were amazing.
  21. Guest: Sheryl Walton | Mitchell, Indiana
    Date: February 5, 2023
    Mr. Oswalt was a special man. I knew him as my teacher, friend, and adminstrator whom I worked for at MCS. He had a quick witted sense of humor and loved to laugh. He was a man of his word and always willing to listen. So sorry for your loss.
  22. Guest: Bobbetta L Robertson | Mitchell
    Date: February 5, 2023
    was a student for him