Bonaro Wilkinson Overstreet, 82, a psychologist, lecturer and author who teamed up with her husband, the late Dr. Harry A. Overstreet, to write "What We Must Know About Communism" and other best-sellers, died of a stroke Sept. 3 at the Manor Care nursing home in Arlington.
Mrs. Overstreet, a resident of Falls Church since 1957, was born in Geyserville, Calif. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and then moved to New York, where she earned a master's degree at Columbia University. In 1931, she published her first book, "The Poetic Way of Release."
In 1932, she married Dr. Overstreet, who at that time was head of the Department of Philosophy and Psychology at the City College of New York. Following his retirement from CCNY in 1939 -- he was 27 years older than she -- the two settled in California.
They then began a career as lecturers and writers that took them all over the United States and much of the world and brought them enormous popularity. In addition to enjoying large sales in this country, their books were translated into many other languages.
In an interview with The Washington Post in 1956, they described themselves as "middlemen and itinerant lecturers." The miles they traveled to lecture accounted for their itinerancy. They regarded themselves as middlemen between psychiatrists and other scientists who use their own language and laymen, who need to know what the scientists are saying but who also are looking for emotional significance in life. Adult education was one of the principal interests of the Overstreets.
In carrying out this work the couple wrote a newspaper column called "Making Life Make Sense" that appeared in The Washington Post and other newspapers. Among their books were "Town Meeting Comes to Town" (1938), "Leaders For Adult Education" (1940), "The Mind Alive" (1954), "The Mind Goes Forth" (1956) and "The Strange Tactics of Extremism" (1964). "What We Must Know About Communism" appeared in 1958 and was on the best-seller lists. President Eisenhower was photographed holding a copy of it.
As lecturers, the two developed a successful style called the "Overstreet colloquium." This was more of a conversation between husband and wife and their audience than a lecture in the usual sense.
In addition to "The Poetic Way of Release," Mrs. Overstreet's own books included "How to Think About Ourselves" (1948) and "Understanding Fear In Ourselves and Others" (1951). She also wrote several inspirational works during World War II, such as "Courage for Crisis" (1943) and "Freedom's People" (1945), and a number of volumes of verse.
Some of her poetry had enormous appeal. One of her best known poems was "John Doe Jr." about a soldier in World War II who was reported missing in action. It included these lines:
"Only war had use for him, and only
long enough to lose him . . .
among the missing . . . "
Mrs. Overstreet continued to lecture until last year, when she spoke at the Falls Church Regional Center of the University of Virginia.
Her husband died in 1970. Two stepsons also died -- Dr. Edmund W. Overstreet in 1982 and Alan B. Overstreet in 1975. Survivors include one stepson, Robert H. Overstreet of Suisun, Calif., and 10 grandchildren.