Soft spoken with a gentle smile, Dr. Gene Overholt proudly wears the white coat, just like his father did.
"He was one of the grandest physicians," says Dr. Gene Overholt.
Overholt knew he wanted to follow in his footsteps in the third grade.
"It was because I could see what he was doing to help people."
Like most boys, Overholt also loved the outdoors, nature
and sports; a passion he shared with his younger brother and fellow physician, Dr. Bob Overholt.
"He is 50 weeks younger than I am. I call him the big mistake," laughs Overholt.
Meeting his wife at age 3 was by no means a mistake.
"Her parents and my parents were good friends so we played as children."
There was only 1 problem, her twin brother, Bo Shafer, was Overholt's best friend. Thankfully, she never came between them. They played side by side at West High School.
"We had a very good football team."
And they were even recruited together by UT's General Neyland himself!
"He (General Neyland) said, 'Now I want you to join us in scholarship. Sign here.' And that's the way the recruitment went. Seriously."
Overholt continued his studies in Gastroenterology at Memphis and then Michigan. His father sent him an article on fiber optics and it came in handy during an interview a week later. The interviewer was suffering from recent procedures to remove a polyp.
"He was doubled over. He said, 'I apologize, I'm very uncomfortable.' And I said what we need is a flexible fibersigmoidoscope."
Overholt's idea was a hit. And, in 1963, he used the first prototype.
"The optics weren't that great and the guy over my shoulder says, 'Overholt this will never develop into anything good.'"
After more than a decade of trials, development and research, his device became THE standard of care.
"I was pretty much at the top of the game."
Overholt faced a tough decision- where to go next. His ole' pal, Bo Shafer, called with this advice.
"Gene, you can go anywhere in the world that you want to go and be a success, but you will never go anywhere where you are loved as much as you will be by family here in Knoxville."
The next day, Overholt and his family moved back home.
"What a wonderful decision."
In Knoxville, Overholt opened the country's first ever endoscopic out patient surgery center.
"And now there are 400 endoscopic ambulatory surgery centers."
He also helped develop photodynamic therapy- which uses laser and medicine to treat diseases like Barrett's Esophagus. And, Overholt has been instrumental in creating technology for optical biopsies.
Ironically though, the scope that jump started Overholt's career doesn't bare his name. A professor told him not to patent it. The decision could've cost Overholt Millions.
"I can't be a huge funder of charitable causes and that's my only regret because money, I've seen so many times, money does bad things to people and to their families."
Overholt does enjoy life outside the office and spending even more time with his wife of 52 years and their family.
"I'm having the best time."