The oldest living World War II veteran and oldest living man in the U.S. turns 112 Friday, and his family and friends are celebrating by inviting everyone to stop by and see him.
Richard Overton, born in 1906, still lives in east Austin in the house he built 72 years ago. Overton moved into the house, now on a street named after him, in 1946, and still spends his days on his front porch, smoking cigars and drinking whiskey.
“I feel fine every day,” Overton told a gaggle of reporters and photographers gathered outside his home on Thursday. “No pain and no aches.”
Hanging on his porch over his head were two types of t-shirts family friends are selling Friday. One features the photo of Overton smiling alongside the mural depicting him at 12th and Chicon streets, and the other a photo of the man with a cigar with the caption, “Keep Austin Ashy.”
Another friend, Chaka Dada of the hip-hop group Riders Against the Storm, had 112 shirts made with the words Overton told to Steve Harvey when the pair met: “Keep living, don’t die.”
Chatting with reporters and one of his caretakers, Martin Wilford, Overton, laughing and smiling, fielded questions for close to a half-hour, until no one had anything left to ask.
What does he want for his birthday? It depends on what you’re going to bring him. What’s the best gift he’s ever gotten? There are too many gifts over the years to choose. Does he have any big plans for 112?
“I hope I live. I’ll try to keep living for next year,” Overton said with a laugh.
Overton is the oldest man in the United States. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in September 1942 at Fort Sam Houston, serving in the South Pacific from 1942 through 1945, in Hawaii, Okinawa, Guam and Iwo Jima. Mr. Overton has lived through 19 presidents.
Wilford said over the years he’s known the man, Overton has taught him how to be a good father. “He’s my hero. He’s like my pop.”
The caretaker also took away lessons from Overton about how to save and manage money. He said the now-112-year-old was always the one who’d help out a friend who needed a few dollars at the end of the month.
“But you have to pay him back. Believe that,” Wilford joked. “With interest.”
Overton’s party is planned for Friday afternoon from 4-7 p.m. at his home at 2011 Richard Overton Avenue. The public is invited to stop by and wish him well.
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