Richard Overton Dies At 112
America's oldest man and World War II veteran, died Dec. 27
Beloved East Austinite Richard Overton, America's oldest man and World War II veteran, died Thursday, Dec. 27, following hospitalization for pneumonia. The 112-year-old became a local icon as he sat on his porch on Hamilton Avenue, watching the world go by with a cigar hanging from his mouth, an Army cap perched on his head, and a whiskey-spiked drink at hand.
Tributes to Overton, described by Mayor Steve Adler as "Austin's great-great-grandfather," have poured in over the last week, reflecting the supercentenarian's national prominence. From the Congressional Black Caucus: "We have lost a national treasure." From U.S. Rep Roger Williams, in whose district Overton lived: "I am eternally grateful to have had him in my life as a friend and role model." From Williams' colleague Beto O'Rourke: "A Texan, an American, a hero for the ages." And from Gov. Greg Abbott: "We can never repay Richard Overton for his service to our nation and for his lasting impact on the Lone Star State." The Texas Veterans Commission recalled one of Overton's many memorable quotes: "You don't know when you get here, you don't know when you go, it's in God's hands."
Adler spoke for many in reflecting that "Mr. Overton embodied wit, class, and a joyful spirit that invited everyone to be part of his special and world-worthy journey." Council Member-elect Natasha Harper-Madison called Overton a "true East Austin icon," who grew up in segregation, served in a segregated Army unit in the Pacific during World War II, and would be honored (in 2013) by the first African-American president. "His incredible story and good humor made him in his later years a rallying point for this community," she wrote. Former Travis County Democratic Party Chair Vincent Harding, who helped organize a dinner honoring Overton in February, called him "one of the nicest and most genuine people you could ever meet. ... We lost a true servant and pioneer. His impact was felt worldwide."
The funeral service for Richard Overton will be held at Shoreline Church at 15201 Burnet Rd. on Jan. 12, 11am, and is open to the public.