William Henry Overholt, Jr.
William Henry Overholt, Jr., 79, died on June 15 at home as he wished after a seven-year battle with multiple myeloma. He was born on May 26, 1937 in Philadelphia, PA and was the son of William Henry, Sr. and Edna Detweiler Overholt. His sisters Dorothy and Ruth predeceased him.
He was the husband of Elizabeth Shaefer Overholt whom he married in September of 1962. They lived in Syracuse NY, Oreland, Pittsburgh and Newtown Square, PA, and Amherst NH.
Bill loved his wife, and he loved his children and grandchildren and always wished that they lived closer. Jennifer Ruth Overholt and her children Cole and Aliana Mediratta, James William Overholt and his wife Anna, and his son Issaac Wilson, and Carolyn Jean Overholt Balogh and her husband Christopher and their children Cora and Lane all live in California. He was Grandpop to his grandchildren.
His family includes his brother-in-law, Russell Shaefer and his wife Linda, his nephew-in-law Stephen Shaefer and his wife Amy and their son Ryan, and his niece-in-law Jill Shaefer Alexander and her husband Timothy and children Joshua and Cassandra, and Stephen and Jill’s mother Jane Shaefer.
Upon graduating from Germantown High School in Philadelphia, he spent three years in the Navy as a photographer and several years in the Naval Reserves. After his time in the Navy, he went to Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, graduating in two and a half years with a math degree, and Syracuse University for a year and a half of graduate school, where he was the intern running the computer center.
His computer career started with Burroughs in 1963, followed by Sperry Univac and Comnet in PA, and Digital, Hayden, LabTech, Nanosciences, Arcadia and his own company NewWorld in NH and MA – first in computer sales and in marketing and then as an executive.
A Burroughs computer like the one that he worked on in the early 60s can be found at the Smithsonian Institute Museum.
His enthusiasm and his interest in photography continued with family pictures, on family vacations, often in the trailer, work trips to Europe and Asia, wildlife and the Amherst Fourth of July parade. Much of his free time was spent in his workshop, birding, playing bridge, antiquing, and with his family and friends. He made those around him groan with his punny jokes – seven days without a pun makes one weak.
He started his political career in Newtown Square (a suburb of Philadelphia) by winning the fight for equal town tax assessments. He was then elected Supervisor for seven years before moving to Amherst in 1980, where he first spent time on the Ways & Means Committee, and then 15 years, from 1986 to 1999, as an Amherst selectman.
As a child he loved toy trains, and, after moving to Amherst, built an extensive HO-gauge train display in the loft, which his grandchildren loved. An early accomplishment included winning the teenage driving rodeo in Philadelphia when he was 16 and the following year in his metallic pea green Volkswagen beetle.
He loved the time spent with his family in the Adirondacks in NY at the two hundred acre camp owned by college friends, where there were spaces carved out in the woods for tents and campers – with up to 80 people in the summer dining in the woods at the Saturday night communal dinner. Many of those people became good friends too. A smaller group got together in the fall when the foliage was beautiful and the men spent a long weekend in February at the camp. It became known as Freeze Out where temperatures often went below zero and volleyball in the snow became a tradition.
Around 2000, after retiring from the business world, he started a successful eBay business selling woodworking tools and planes that he purchased at various auctions. Some of the planes date back to the 1800s, and were made of beautiful wood.
After his death, all of his family gathered at his house for several days to celebrate his life, to cry and laugh, and to reminisce, with many hugs. At his request, the celebration drink was a gin and tonic, his favorite.
A Celebration of Bill’s life, complete with his favorite gin and tonics, will take place at his home, as he wished, on Sunday, July 10, at 91 Horace Greeley Road in Amherst from 2 to 5 pm with a time to share and honor him at 3 pm. Please come up the long driveway to park.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his name to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, 383 Main Avenue, 5th Floor, Norwalk, CT 06851 or the Amherst Fire Association, P.O. Box 1199, Amherst, NH 03031.