PITTSBURG — A Pitt State Gorilla since 1936, Jack H. Overman embodied what Once a Gorilla Always Gorilla means.
The long-time Gorilla fan, alum, leader and local legend, died Saturday at the age of 100.
“Jack Overman represents everything that's good about Pittsburg State … his passion for Gorilla athletics, his commitment to individual students, and his enduring love for the institution,”  PSU President Steve Scott said in a release. “His impact on Pitt State has been evident over the past eight decades and will be felt for decades to come.”

Overman was employed at PSU when Scott was a student in the 1970s and he had been a classmate of Scott’s mother — a signed 1940 yearbook is among Scott’s cherished possessions.
“He signed it on a page that included a photo of him decked out as a yell leader, and wrote encouraging words to her in the same spirit as he has encouraged me over my time as a faculty member and campus leader,” Scott said. “I feel blessed to think about my family's connection to Jack over all of these years.
“He left his mark on Pittsburg State University and on me personally. We should all admire and be forever grateful for the life he has led and the difference he has made.”

Overman, who was born on Aug. 23, 1918, in Girard, Kansas, attended Pittsburg High School, where he was a yell leader.

When he enrolled at PSU — then known as the Kansas State Teachers College — in 1936, he continued to perform on the cheer squad at pep rallies and bonfires, convocations, and marches to downtown Pittsburg.

He celebrated his 100th birthday at the Jack Overman Student Center at Pittsburg State University where cheerleaders, students and community members wished him happy birthday and shook his hand — an annual celebration for the university.

For Overman’s 100th birthday, Pittsburg City Commissioner Patrick O’Bryan showed up at the  celebration and proclaimed that Aug. 23, 2018 would be known in Pittsburg as Jack Overman Day.

Overman started at PSU as a yell leader and remained a cheerleader for the university, making an effort to not miss a game since.
“I have a real passion for this university,” Overman said in a 2011 Morning Sun article at the age of 93. “I don’t care who or what it is or if it’s hot or cold. I’m going to be there.”

Overman’s trademark cowbell, funny hats, and crimson and gold garb were part of the game-day atmosphere at countless PSU athletic contests.
“Perhaps the most remarkable of Overman’s achievements was his ability to connect with students younger even than his own grandchildren,” the release said. “Well into his 80s, Overman was known to climb onto a picnic table in Gorilla Village to lead 19- and 20-year-old students in a Pitt State cheer. His enthusiasm and optimism were contagious for Gorilla fans of all ages.”  

Overman is remembered by alumni for his gregarious nature. They remember the man who went to football games rain or shine, was a stranger to no one and had a cheerful smile — the unofficial human mascot of the PSU Gorillas.

For one PSU alum, David McCaughey (B.A. Science of Technology 1983), Overman’s passion for the university has stuck with him over all of these years and he said he tried to live by Overman’s example in his own life.  
“He definitely loved his job,” McCaughey said. “You can just tell it was not a job to him, it was a passion for him to be there and being involved.
“I remember all of this years later, his passion.”

When Jon Bartlow, director of alumni and constituent relations, is out speaking to alumni across the country, without a doubt Overman’s name is most recognized.
“Jack was the epitome of your giving, loyal, bleeding crimson and gold alum,” Bartlow, said. “He’s truly the epitome of what it meant to be a loyal Gorilla.”

Overman was not only Mr. Pitt State, he was Mr. Pittsburg, Bartlow said.
“I don’t think anyone could ever match the amount of time, love and dedication he put into this community — meaning not only Pitt State but the community as a whole,” he said.

Overman became one of Pittsburg’s most active volunteers and continued his philanthropic efforts into his 90s.

Bartlow said he most was not only on several boards, but the president of some of them as well.

For almost 95 years, Overman was a member of the YMCA — one of the oldest active members — former YMCA Executive Director Jack Bache said. He swam nearly every day until he moved to a nursing home.
“I go to the YMCA every day, six days a week, and swim a quarter of a mile,” Overman said in an article in 2012. “Since I retired in 1986, I figure I’ve swum over 1,300 miles. The Pittsburg YMCA is a great place to be. It has been a part of my life my whole life.”

Overman was also on the YMCA Board of Trustees, helping provide scholarships for youth during the membership drives.
“He could do anything,” Bache said.

One of the last boards of which he was a member was the YMCA Board of Directors, which he left in 2013.
“He was a marvelous individual and certainly will be missed by the ‘Y’ and many organizations in town,” Bache said. “He lived our creed and believed in the mission we stand for.”

Overman in the past, had claimed the university and the community’s success was made possible through the all of the people who gave back.
“Pittsburg is a very, very giving and loving community,” he said in 2011. “I don’t know of any projects we’ve undertaken that we haven’t gotten built. They’ve always turned out successfully.
“This is all possible because of their love of their community. People of all types give back. It’s one for all and all for one.”

About Jack H. Overman
Jack H. Overman graduated from Pittsburg State University with a degree in Business Administration in 1940.

He was a leader on the Pittsburg State University campus, serving as student body president.

He also served as a charter member and past president of the Pep Club, Kappa Delta, and as business manager of the Kanza, the student yearbook.

After graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in 1940, Overman spent a year as Assistant Dean of Men and then a year with the W.A. Sheaffer Pen Co. before being named executive director of the Pittsburg YMCA. He served four terms on the YMCA board and was president in 1967.

In 1951, he returned to the university as the first director of the new student center and earned a master’s degree from PSU in 1954. He served in that role for 33 years, retiring in 1984.

The Kansas Board of Regents renamed the student center after Overman following his retirement. In 1986, he was given the Meritorious Achievement Award by PSU Alumni & Constituent Relations and was inducted into the PSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.

Overman also was active in the community, including the Pittsburg Rotary Club, First United Methodist Church, YMCA, Salvation Army, Gold Bank, Pritchett Trust, Mt. Carmel Foundation, Boy Scouts, and Elm Acres. Overman is a recipient of the Spirit of Pittsburg Award.

For most of his adult life, he and his wife, Doris, lived just across the street from McCray Hall, on Lindburg, in a house built by physics professor James Garfield Shirk. Jack and Doris were frequent and welcome guests at PSU activities of all kinds.  

They met when they were both students in 1940 and they married in 1945. They had two children, Steve Overman, Pacifica, Calif.; and Sandy Overman Haile, Pittsburg. Doris, a lifelong teacher, died in 2008.

Arrangements are pending and will be announced at a later date.