Lee Overstreet, the friendly, silver-haired movie lover who sold weekend matinee tickets at the Kentucky Theatre for more than a decade, died Monday from pneumonia. She was 91.|
Ms. Overstreet started working at the theater in 1999, having already lived a life that would have made a good movie.
"She did everything," Kentucky Theatre manager Fred Mills said. "She was one of the most interesting people I ever met in my life."
In 1942, after graduating from the University of Kentucky, she was part of the new Women's Army Corps, stationed around the South during World War II. She then went back to school on the G.I. Bill, studying to be a medical technologist and getting her airplane pilot's license.
Those skills led her to be one of the first members of the Peace Corps in 1962. She served two years in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which was called Tanganyika at the time. While there, in her 40s, Ms. Overstreet climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, with a group of twentysomethings. Later she took the long way home, traveling through Cambodia and Thailand.
Mills recalled Ms. Overstreet as a woman who was never limited by age and was always trying new things.
In a 2008 profile in the Herald-Leader, she described going to the Kentucky's signature midnight movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, for the first time that year. At age 88, she donned boxer shorts over leggings and a bra over her shirt for the trip to the risqué classic whose fans dress up - or down.
But that was hardly the first time Ms. Overstreet had dressed up at the theater. She would frequently accessorize to complement the film playing inside. Mills recalled her wearing a tiara in the box office during the run of The Queen in 2006 and '07.
"I still have the tiara, and I think I will put it in the lobby with some flowers," Mills said.
Ms. Overstreet came to work at the Kentucky, where she had gone to movies as a child, when she moved back to Lexington in 1999.
"She was the perfect example of the way a service employee should treat customers," Mills said.
He said Ms. Overstreet always came to work, even during snow and ice storms that prompted younger employees to say they couldn't make it to the theater.
"She would come in, even if she had to crawl on her stomach," Mills said. "Even though she was to a large extent a loner, she really enjoyed people."
Ms. Overstreet worked at the theater until August, when failing health forced her to move to an assisted-living home.
Ms. Overstreet is survived by a sister, Jean Overstreet Taussig of San Francisco, and four nieces. Funeral arrangements are pending with Kerr Bros. Funeral Home.
Published in Lexington Herald-Leader from Jan. 4 to Jan. 6, 2012