Jack Overman, perhaps Pittsburg State’s most ardent cheerleader, died on Dec. 8 at age 100, just months after celebrating his centennial birthday with fans of all ages in the student center that bears his name.

Born Aug. 23, 1918, he was known by generations of students, staff, alumni, and community members as a passionate and loveable cheerleader.

“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,” said President Steve Scott. “His impact on Pitt State has been evident over the past eight decades and certainly will be felt for decades to come.”

PSU President Steve Scott wishes Jack Overman a happy 100th birthday at a party in his honor last August.

PSU President Steve Scott wishes Jack Overman a happy 100th birthday at a party in his honor last August.

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 here 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 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 bon fires, convocations, and marches to downtown Pittsburg.

He was a leader, serving as student body president, charter member and past president of the Pep Club, Kappa Delta, and as business manager of the Kanza yearbook.

After graduating in 1940, Overman spent a year as Assistant Dean of Men and then a year with the W.A. Sheaffer Pen Co. He was named executive director of the Pittsburg YMCA and continued to be active there into his 90s, swimming laps each morning.

In 1951, he returned to the university as the first director of the new student center and earned a master’s degree in 1954.

The Kansas Board of Regents renamed the student center after him following his retirement in 1984. 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’s trademark cowbell, funny hats, and crimson and gold garb were part of the game-day atmosphere at countless athletic contests.

Perhaps the most remarkable of Overman’s achievements was his ability to connect with students. Well into his 80s, he was known to climb onto a picnic table in Gorilla Village to lead a Pitt State cheer.

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

For most of his adult life, he and his wife, Doris, lived across the street from McCray Hall, in a house built by physics professor James Garfield Shirk, and attended numerous university events.

Scott said of Overman’s death: “There will never be another Jack.”