Former selectman always involved
AMHERST – The indoor pool in the house next door set William Overholt on a campaign for tax equity.
He and his wife, Elizabeth, were living in a small town in Pennsylvania, where he saw that assessments were clearly uneven.
So Overholt formed a taxpayers association that eventually forced the town to equalize property assessments. Then he ran for supervisor – a position similar to selectman – and served for seven years before the family moved to New Hampshire.
"Until someone brought it to their attention," nothing was going to change in the Pennsylvania town, Elizabeth Overholt said.
William Overholt, who was an Amherst selectman from 1986-99, died June 15 at 79 after a seven-year battle with multiple myeloma.
To town government, he brought the analytical mind he used in his computer career to the problems of balancing town needs with the needs of taxpayers, and he really enjoyed the work, Elizabeth said.
Personality conflicts on the board eventually drained the fun away, she said, but after William left the board, he retained his interest in town government, becoming a "supporter and critic."
Elizabeth, who is the Amherst town treasurer, enlisted her husband’s help a number of years ago after she got tired, she said, of the board discussing but never doing anything about the poor shape of many of the town roads.
Selectmen were persuaded to form a study committee that led to the passage of a $15 million bond for 23 miles of roads.
As a selectman, Elizabeth said, one of William’s most satisfying accomplishments was police union negotiations.
"He would always come home and talk about reasons and rationale," and he was proud to explain selectmen’s reasoning at Town Meeting, she said. "He would look at an issue and weigh the pros and cons."
All in all, Elizabeth said her husband "loved being involved" with the town, and loved planning for Amherst’s Fourth of July and its 250th birthday celebrations.
After he left a long career in computers that started with Burroughs in 1963, Overholt established a home business selling woodworking tools and plans on eBay.
Bill and Liz had three children and several grandchildren. Family and friends will follow his wishes and hold a celebration of his life, with his favorite gin and tonics, at his home on Horace Greeley Road from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, July 10, with a time to share memories and honor him at 3.
Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or email@example.com.