Wilson's Jesse Overman, who passed away in June of 2016, will be inducted posthumously into the North Carolina United States Bowling Congress Association Hall of Fame on Saturday night. Contributed photo
This plaque, displayed on a wall at the Westview Lanes Bowling Center entrance, documents the late Jesse Overman's accomplishment of a state-record series of 864 in 1987 and his feat of bowling the first 300 (perfect) game at Westview Lanes in 1981. Tom Ham | Times
By Tom Ham
Senior Staff Writer
Wilson County’s most accomplished bowler will be inducted posthumously into the North Carolina United States Bowling Congress Association Hall of Fame on Saturday evening.
This year’s induction class will include Jesse Overman, who lost his second battle with cancer on Jan. 4, 2016.
The ceremony is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the Doubletree Hotel in Winston-Salem and is part of the association’s annual meeting.
Overman’s widow, Celesta Beamon, will be accompanied by family members along with Overman’s long-time bowling companion Floyd Smith and his wife.
Smith launched the campaign to enshrine Overman and the endeavor was finalized by NCUSBCA Manager Yvette Davis.
Overman is most noted for bowling an astounding 864 series — only 36 pins shy of perfection — at Westview Lanes on Nov. 22, 1987. The three-game total existed as a state plastic ball record for five years.
Overman fashioned a 295-300-269. He rolled 11 consecutive strikes in the first game. Twelve consecutive strikes resulted in a perfect second game and the streak reached 20 strikes in the third game.
He also bowled the first perfect game at Westview Lanes on Oct. 24, 1981. Overman’s career accomplishments included six 300 games and five 800 series.
Overman was described as “ahead of his time” by long-time Wilson bowler Freeman Faison, whose credits include a dozen 300 games.
Leon Lamm, now co-owner of Westview Lanes, remembers Overman as an analyst and a master of repetition.
“A wonderful bowler and a nice guy,” commented veteran Westview Lanes bowler Charlie Johnson. “He was a BOWLER — a great BOWLER. He certainly deserves to be in the hall of fame.”
Faison bowled with Overman the evening at Westview Lanes when he posted the state-record 864.
“We were bowling with the same (brand of) ball and he would grab my ball,” Faison said.
“It’s good that he’s going into the hall of fame. He should be. The main thing is that he loved bowling; he lived for it
“His release ... he was ahead of his time. He always tried to show us, but we could never get it right. I bowled with him and I bowled against him. But he was my teammate a lot.”
Lamm pointed out Overman was already a well-known bowler when he met him.
“He was already pretty good,” Lamm assured. “There was a little bit of competition among him, Moon Mullen and myself. He always thrived in local arenas. He loved the game.
“Jesse was very methodical. He put a lot of thought into it. He analyzed everything and was very good at it.”
Lamm considers Overman the model example of reaping the benefits of repetition and hard work.
“He got a lot better because of hard work,” Lamm emphasized. “He was fun to watch.”
Beamon commented that she was very proud of Overman’s accomplishments.
She added he “thought about” bowling professionally but indicated he would have been uncomfortable and uneasy with the lifestyle.
“He was kind of shy, a homebody,” Beamon explained.
Overman’s career ended in 2005 because of knee and back problems. Ironically, a year later, he was diagnosed with cancer. Then came a second diagnosis in 2013.
Of the hall-of-fame recognition, Beamon responded: “He would be so honored; bowling was his passion.”
Beamon will accept the commemorerative award on his behalf.
“It is great to have recognition that people deserve,” Lamm declared. “This is a great credit to him and our area.
“The biggest thing is that I just wish he could be here to see it. It’s great but tough.”