Randolph V. “Buddy” Overbey, Jr.

By Henry Hurt.
Buddy Overbey

Buddy Overbey as Chatham's Master Lamplighter, Christmas in Colonial Chatham celebration, December 8, 1990.

Buddy Overbey, whose warm stories and good cheer embodied the spirit of Old Chatham, died Sunday in Danville Regional Medical Center following an illness of several months.

Known as Buddy, Randolph Vaughan Overbey, Jr., was born in Chatham on January 14, 1924. Among survivors are his wife, Alice Hines Overbey of the residence, and one daughter, Terry Overbey Stafford of Abingdon, Maryland.

Mr. Overbey’s death closes a library of colorful memories about his 84 years in Chatham. For decades, friends, neighbors and come-latelys have enjoyed his rendering of historical events, colorful characters and the oddities of the passing scene in small-town America.

For many years, Mr. Overbey faithfully donned his tri-cornered hat and knee-breeches to serve as Master Lamplighter at the town’s annual pageant, Christmas in Colonial Chatham. This was fitting, given his family’s deep roots in this old town.

Through his mother, he was descended from the “:Harpen Creek Watsons” and Thomas (“The Scotchman”) Watson who is cited as being the first permanent resident of what is now Chatham.

Mr. Overbey was the owner and operator of Overbey Real Estate and well known throughout the area as an auctioneer. For several years, he became a beekeeper and operated an enterprise called Overbees, which produced honey. He said he enjoyed watching the bees do all the work.

He was also known for his fondness of steam engines and motorcycles, and he rarely missed the Friday night opera at Jack Mason's Garage in downtown Pickeral.

Mr. Overbey was a veteran of World War II and a 60-year member of Masonic Lodge #24 A. F. & A. M.

A lifelong member of the Chatham Baptist Church, Mr. Overbey was one of the last remaining members of the Bernard Arnn Sunday School Class, founded and named in honor of Mr. Arnn who lost his life in World War II. The only members of that class left are Andrew Todd and Carrington Thompson, the long-time teacher of the class.

Mr. Overbey received his education at the Chatham public schools, Hargrave Military Academy and the University of Richmond.

He was the son of Randolph Vaughan Overbey, Sr., and Henson Walker Overbey. His three sisters, all deceased, were Sally Watson Overbey Green, Patsy Ann Overbey and Mary Cabell Overbey Field.

Mr. Overbey also leaves three grandsons: Randolph Andrew Stafford of Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina; Robert Landon Stafford (and wife Leigh) of Sarasota, Florida, and William Cabell Stafford (and wife Tara) of Chatham. Survivors include one great granddaughter, Elizabeth Stafford of Chatham, as well as his son-in-law, James Boyd, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

A funeral service will be held at Chatham Baptist Church at 11 a.m. Wednesday, with burial at the old Chatham graveyard. The family is receiving friends at the residence.

Scott Funeral Home is in charge of the funeral arrangements.

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