Friends celebrate and say goodbye to Richard Overton

AUSTIN (KXAN)— The skies were as sunny as they could be, the air was fresh, clean, and had just the right amount of breeze, and there was rarely a sad face seen as family and perfect strangers who were treated as family laid Richard Overton to rest. 

“To sum it up in one word: “Love.” That man was a person who loved genuinely, and unconditionally,” said Shimanda Wilford, cousin of Overton. 

From the viewing the day prior, to the burial, everything tied to Overton’s farewell did not feel like a funeral — but a celebration. Family of Overton who have not seen each other in years were reunited, celebratory cigars were enjoyed at the burial. It was just how Overton would have wanted it, as Wilford told KXAN. 

Overton died at 112. At the time, he was the oldest WWII veteran alive, and the oldest person living. Most of those 112 years (more than 70) were lived in east Austin and the final resting place for the man is also in his neighborhood — The Texas State Cemetery. 

He will lay along side some other notable Texans including Ann Richards, Darrell K. Royal, Chris Kyle, and others. 

Prominent elected officials tied to Texas offered thoughts and remarks — some in person at the church service, others via social media. But the measure of ones life can best be measured by those who remember him and are not in a position to gain PR points in the public’s eye. 

Theodis Daniels Jr. is a tall, proud, striking individual, dressed in US Navy garb. Daniels says Overton would always visit him and his father at their air conditioning shop at 14th and Cedar. 

“He would always tell me to never hold grudges and don’t worry about stuff that you have no control over and just live your life,” said Daniels. 

Poetically, in death, those words rang true as Daniels looked around and took in the hundreds who paid their respects.

“Undoubtedly, everything he was telling me was right and it shows. It’s not about money and cars and things like that - at the end of the day, you come into the world with nothing and you leave with nothing and your riches are the people who come out and remember your memory.”

Sara Godinez did not know Overton, never met him, had no ties to him. Yet she still felt compelled to go to the burial and say goodbye one last time and echo what she learned from Overton. 

“To just be kind. Be kind to everyone! Help someone if you can. We need that now more than ever.”

The plans now are to take Overton’s east Austin home and covert it to a museum of sorts. In the mean time, you can visit Richard Overton, as he is lying next to his cousin, Volma Overton Sr., where other great Texans rest. 

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