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 kcleveland@cabinet.com.