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* Gene Overby 2011

Gene Overby was recognized throughout the Atlantic Coast Conference as the “Voice of the Deacons” for his work with the school’s radio network, as well as serving host to various Wake Forest-oriented television shows over the years from 1972 until his death in 1989.   
          
Curtis Eugene “Gene”  Overby was born Nov. 12, 1937 in Reidsville, N.C., one of six children of Clara K. Overby, who worked at Cone Mills in Reidsville and was the family’s sole source of support from the time of his birth.  Gene began his radio career as a youngster in his hometown when he first appeared on radio at the age of 10, singing “White Christmas” during a live radio show.  At the age of 12, he was introducing records on the air at WFRC radio in Reidsville.  During the summers, he was a bat boy for the Reidsville Luckies baseball team and would eventually become an all-state second baseman on Reidsville High School’s state championship baseball team in 1955.  Following his high school graduation in 1956, Overby spent time with the Philadelphia Phillies’ Wilson, N.C.  Class D team.  Because he had not turned 18 and his mother refused to sign the contact, he was unable to take the field and returned to Reidsville.

Over the next few years, Overby attended Elon College and held a number of jobs in the area. In 1961, he joined the Duke football and basketball networks and called play-by-play for the Durham Bulls.   In 1966, he moved his family to Winston-Salem to serve as the play-by-play broadcaster for the Winston-Salem Red Sox minor league team and as the announcer for Winston-Salem State football for radio station WAAA.  While broadcasting a Red Sox game, Wake Forest sports information director Marvin “Skeeter” Francis approached him and convinced him to handle the public address duties at Demon Deacon football and basketball games.  Overby handled the PA duties from 1968 until 1972 when WSJS became the flagship station of the Wake Forest Network and he became the play-by-play announcer.  He took one year off from the Wake Forest announcing position in order to do the play-by-play for the Carolina Cougars of the old American Basketball Association.  Overby was the sports director at WSJS/WXII-TV from 1968 to 78.

He was named the North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year in 1975 and 1984 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.  In 1984, he received the Honorary Alumnus Award from Wake Forest University.  In 1988, he was inducted into the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County High School Sports Hall of Fame and the Wake Forest University Sports Hall of Fame.

“For 17 years, Gene was the voice of the Deacons, but he was far more than our play-by-play announcer,” said Wake Forest University President Dr. Thomas Hearn said at the time of Overby’s death.  “He was Wake Forest’s number one fan, and his enthusiasm and positive outlook inspired all who knew him.  He believed in and represented what Wake Forest stands for on and off the playing field.  He promoted every good cause in Winston-Salem.

He and his wife Jo Ann are the parents of a daughter, Kim, and two sons, Gene, Jr. and Jeff.

Gene Overby passed away on March 30, 1989 after a 13-year battle with cancer.
 
Steve Shutt  Wake Forest University


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