by admin | December 30, 2016 9:19 am
I was not able to pay my final respects to Eddie Overhultz, who died on Christmas Eve at 71. Holiday plans had already been made, and his passing caught me by surprise. We had largely lost touch since I moved to Longview nine years ago. That is my fault. We talked by phone a few years ago, and I kept promising to come visit him in Nacogdoches, but that did not come to pass. So I thought I would present this modest appreciation of a man who was a close friend for about 15 years and tell a few stories I hope will make those who knew Eddie — and those who didn’t — smile.
Eddie came to Nacogdoches from Lufkin to run the CenterPoint Energy office in 1993, the same year I became publisher of the Daily Sentinel after three years as managing editor. A large part of his job — and mine — meant being involved in the community, with the chamber, economic development and other civic endeavors. Eddie, his predecessor, Rayford Williams (who died in 2013 at 84), and I became fast friends. Both of those men, who had been friends and co-workers for decades, would do anything to help out. Since they both were far superior handymen to me, I called upon them often to make plumbing or electrical repairs.
Eddie delighted in playing practical jokes, especially on Rayford, who was quiet, easy-going and unfailingly polite. One autumn afternoon, several of us went dove hunting on a friend’s farm in Pollock, outside Lufkin. Dove hunting in East Texas is really an excuse to drink beer and occasionally fire shotguns at the occasional dove that flew by. I remember once that four of us fired at a single dove swerving above. The dove remained unscathed, which was fine by me.
Rayford was wearing his favorite floppy hat, the kind that men wear when women aren’t around to tell them to take that silly thing off. Eddie whispered to me, “Grab Rayford’s hat and toss it up in the air in front of him.” I complied, flipping it like a Frisbee. Eddie shot it out of the air with his 20-gauge. Rayford simply trudged over, picked up the hat now pocketed with pellet holes, put it back on his head and said, “Damn, Eddie.” And that was the end of that.
Eddie and I went into the slumlord business for a few years, in an ill-fated venture that I instigated. We bought a rambling duplex that had five bedrooms on one side and one bedroom on the other. In a college town, five bedrooms is rare for a rental, and our plan was to populate it with college students. On paper, this was a decent plan. The rent would be more than double the mortgage payment. We called our partnership TOF Properties. This stood for “Two Old Farts,” or in more polite company, “Two Old Friends.”
It was a disaster. The five tenants on the larger side — all guys — clearly had been raised by wolves. We eventually evicted them for nonpayment and then spent a gag-filled weekend cleaning up the mess they left.
The roof leaked. The plumbing collapsed. At one point, we spent an entire Saturday beneath this sagging pier-and-beam structure fixing a sewer line. I believe that was the morning Fast Eddie — the nickname I gave him for no reason other than he needed one — looked at me and said, “Borders, if you ever suggest we buy another rental property I believe I’m going to have to shoot you.”
It took several months, but we finally sold the duplex and permanently retired from the slumlord business.
For a time I raised cows on the same farm we went dove hunting, and Eddie and a partner raised Angus cattle on the same land. We spent many enjoyable afternoons messing around with cows, until I retired from the cow business.
Eddie was a meticulous do-it-yourselfer. When he retiled a bathroom floor, you could rest assured every tile would line up perfectly. He was able to retire at 55 and spent many hours working on making the home nicer for him and his wife, Anita. He loved his children and grandchildren. Certainly his passing leaves a hole in their lives.
He was a good man, and I treasure those years we were friends. Rest in peace, friend.
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