UCA journalism instructor Jerry Earle Overton, 63, of Conway, AR, died Thursday, Jan. 11.
Overton was born June 27, 1954, in Fort Smith, Arkansas to the late Earle and Irma Overton of Mansfield, Arkansas.
Overton was an educator and broadcaster with 44 years of experience in broadcast news, sports, programming and management, sports marketing, sales, sales management and traditional classroom and online teaching.
He was journalism instructor at UCA for two years, where he taught, mentored and forged relationships with students and faculty alike.
Associate Professor in Journalism Donna Stephens said Overton valued his family and his career.
“He was so happy to be able to teach young journalists. He prepared for the final phase of his career by going back to graduate school,” Stephens said.
Stephens said he was a great team player. When he was hired at UCA, he immediately became a key member of the journalism faculty.
“He was enthusiastic, dependable, funny and a wonderful colleague. I know he was happy here, and I am so glad that we had him for the short while that we did,” Stephens said.
Stephens said faculty and staff members loved watching him chew on his cigar and laugh his belly laugh.
“I don’t think I ever saw him angry. He was always easygoing. He was a kind and caring mentor to so many students, and he demanded their best,” his son, Blake Overton, said.
Blake Overton said his favorite memory of his dad is when, as kids, he and his twin brother Matt were playing on a television set where Overton was working. During a commercial, Matt got behind the desk where Overton was reading the sports and Overton had to hold Matt down out of camera view for five minutes after the broadcast began airing.
Blake said his father taught him how to be a genuinely good person.
“If you were willing to help yourself, he was willing to help you,” Blake said.
Blake said Overton would go above and beyond to help the people he loved.
“If I needed something, he would drive to Austin [Texas] to help me. He was all about family. He was the person that kept the family together,” Blake said.
According to his obituary in The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Overton is survived by his wife of 41 years, the former Donna Thompson; sons Matt Overton of Dallas, Texas, and his wife, Ashley; and Blake Overton of Austin, Texas, and his wife, Kim; granddaughters Hadley and Regan Overton of Dallas.
Overton’s visitation was Monday, Jan. 15 at Martin Funeral Home on Mansfield. His funeral service was Tuesday, Jan. 16 at Mansfield First United Methodist Church, followed by a burial at Coop Prairie Cemetery in Mansfield. A memorial service was held in Conway at First Methodist Church on Saturday, Jan. 20.
In lieu of flowers, donations for a future Jerry Overton Journalism Scholarship may be sent to the UCA Foundation/Jerry Overton Fund, 201 Donaghey Ave., Box 4986, Conway, AR. 72035.