Overture T. Webb, 68, was well-known Catonsville dancer

November 06, 1996|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Overture T. Webb never encountered a dance step he couldn't master. And even if he did, he knew enough soft-shoe moves to fake it.

Mr. Webb, who died Saturday at age 68 of cancer at his Woodlawn home, spent nearly as much time on area dance floors as he did at home, friends and relatives said.

"He was just a freak in the clubs," said a son, Alfred Webb of Woodlawn. "He was always the center of attention when he started dancing. People would just stop doing their dancing and watch him."

Mr. Webb lived most of his life in Catonsville, and until he became ill was a regular at the nearby Elk's Club, King's Club and American Legion Hall. Years ago, when Pennsylvania Avenue in West Baltimore was the hub of entertainment, he frequently danced at Avenue clubs, too.

In fact, an Avenue club was likely the place where Mr. Webb referred to himself as "the man who invented the jitterbug."

"Toots was as lively a person as you could imagine. He knew the jitterbug because that was what he did best," said Jerry Boston, a longtime friend. "He could always spin the girls good. I never saw him flip anyone over, but he could go. He could definitely cut the rug."

It was common for Mr. Webb to be one of the last patrons left on the dance floor and have the management ask him to leave so they could close for the night. He often gave impromptu lessons on the dance floor.

At the Elk's Club years ago, Mr. Webb once danced nonstop for an hour and five minutes -- wearing out three partners in the process.

"I've never seen anyone do that before, and still not even seem tired," said Charles Edney, a friend. "He wasn't a young man then, either, and we had to pull him off the floor because none of the women would dance with him because they knew he didn't know when to stop."

Born and raised in Catonsville, Mr. Webb graduated from the former Banneker High School in Baltimore County in the early 1940s. He was a truck driver in the Army from 1945 to 1947.

After his discharge, he was a truck driver for an appliance company until he retired in 1968. During his retirement, he worked as a "hack," offering people rides in his car for a fee, his son said.

He was also active in the Catonsville community, especially the area near Winters Lane. He was active in community block watches and was involved in many local and countywide political campaigns.

"When he was home, he wasn't really home because he was always out talking to neighbors and being into just about everything," said Rodney McNeil, a longtime friend and neighbor.

Said Mr. Boston: "If there is someone out there who doesn't know him, then they're not from Catonsville."

Services will be at 7 p.m. todayat Grace African Methodist Episcopal Church, 67 Winters Lane in Catonsville.

In addition to his son, he is survived by another son, Theodore Webb of Baltimore; a daughter, Gloria Martin of Baltimore; five brothers, Charles Green of Bethesda; Scholley Webb, Coleman Webb, Upshure Webb and Edgar Webb, all of Catonsville; a sister, Thelma Perkins of Catonsville; and five grandchildren.

Pub Date: 11/06/96

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