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Carnegie woman loved her family, career

| Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009

For Heidi Overmier, family was everything.

The single mother doted on her teenage son, Ian, and relished time with her mother, siblings, nieces and nephews.

Going to the gym was one of the rare things she did for herself, and so she headed to the Latin Impact aerobics class at LA Fitness center in Collier Tuesday night. Shortly after the class began, a man holding a duffel bag walked in, turned out the lights and began shooting.

Overmier, 46, of Carnegie was one of three women killed. Nine more were wounded before the gunman killed himself.

"We are still in shock," said Lindsay Bard, 29, Overmier's niece, who gathered with her extended family Wednesday. "It is not fully registered what is going on."

The Allegheny Medical Examiner's Office said Overmier died of bullet wounds of her neck and trunk. Her body was taken to William Slater Funeral Home on Greentree Road.

"Of all the places in the world you would think someone would be safe, the gym would be one of them," Bard said. "Whoever thought someone would open fire in a gym?"

Overmier grew up in West Mifflin and graduated from West Mifflin Area High School and then Penn State University, Bard said. Overmier's mother, Joy Jordan of North Versailles, declined to talk. Overmier's ex-husband lives in South Carolina, family members said. Her son is 15, Bard said.

"She and her son were very tight," Bard said. "He seems to be in a lot better shape than the rest of us.

"Ian was her life. Whatever was needed, that's what she did. She worked a lot, but she chauffeured him around to soccer and other activities."

Joyce King of Cranberry said she chatted with Overmier, her friend and former colleague at Kennywood Park, hours before she was killed.

The two bumped into each other at an employee reunion picnic at one of the park's pavilions. Overmier, who started working at the park in 1999, handled behind-the-scenes business at the amusement park, such as ticket sales for school districts and other large groups.

"I said 'hello' and I told her I would probably see her on Friday because I planned to take my grandkids to the park that day," said King, who retired from the group ticket office in November. "She seemed fine, happy."

King said Overmier left the picnic early to attend an event at the Hofbrauhaus restaurant in SouthSide Works held by Destination: Greater Pittsburgh, a group that provides information and other resources to tourist groups planning to visit Southwestern Pennsylvania. Overmier was the group's vice president.

"She was a wonderful person. She was my best friend (at Kennywood). She was dependable, good-natured, and if you ever needed help, all you had to do was go and ask her. She was just the most giving person," King said. "I loved her dearly, and I will really miss her."

As part of her Kennywood job, Overmier worked with VisitPittsburgh, leading committees and working on marketing campaigns, said Tinsy Lipchak, executive director of tourism and cultural heritage at VisitPittsburgh.

"She loved her job," Lipchak said. "She loved Pittsburgh and she really loved what she did. She's just a real sweet person -- everything you'd think of in a nice Pittsburgh girl."

Because she loved to work out, Bard said, her aunt was "petite and in great shape." Overmier often went to the gym in the evenings because of her busy work schedule, King said.

Overmier was a member of First Community Methodist Church of Bridgeville, Bard said, where she often wrote, produced and directed children's Christmas pageants.

"She would complain about how much work it was, but we all knew she really loved doing it," Bard said.

Overmier worked in the hotel industry, as did her ex-husband, and moved around the East Coast -- living in Orlando, West Palm Beach, Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio -- before returning to the Pittsburgh area several years ago, Bard said.

"Heidi was just a fabulous gal," said Kennywood spokeswoman Mary Lou Rosemeyer. "She will be tremendously missed. People here are devastated."

In an open letter to Overmier's friends and family, Kennywood General Manager Jerome Gibas said park employees were "shocked and deeply saddened" by news of her death. The amusement park is establishing a college fund for her son, Ian.

"Heidi's easy smile and can do attitude will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her," Gibas wrote. "Heidi's love of life, friendship, and dedication to excellence in all areas of her life will long be remembered."

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