By: Nevaeh Richardson
During a time when we are stressing that “Black Lives Matter,” we want to celebrate the life of a Texan who definitely had a life well-lived. In this week’s “Know your history,” we’d like to tell you the story of supercentenarian and veteran Richard Overton, a Texas native.
Richard Arvin Overton (May 11, 1906 – December 27, 2018) was a supercentenarian who, at the age of 112 years old, was the oldest verified surviving U.S. World War II veteran and the oldest man in the United States. He served in the United States Army. In 2013, he was honored by President Barack Obama. He resided in Austin, Texas, from 1945 until his death in 2018.
Overton was born in Bastrop County, Texas, to Gentry Overton, Sr. and Elizabeth Franklin Overton Waters.
Overton gained media attention during the 2013 Memorial Day weekend when he told Fox News he would spend his Memorial Day “smoking cigars and drinking whiskey-stiffened coffee.” Overton had been known to smoke about a dozen cigars a day. On that same Memorial Day, Overton met with Texas Governor Rick Perry. Overton was also invited to the White House where he met with President Barack Obama, and to the Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, where he was singled out by name for praise by the President.
During an NBA game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies on March 24, 2017, Overton was honored during a half-time break.
Overton is the subject of a 2016 documentary, Mr. Overton, in which he is interviewed about his daily routine, thoughts on his longevity, and his military service. On May 3, 2016, he became the oldest surviving American veteran after the death of Frank Levingston.
On May 11, 2016, Overton became a supercentenarian. Following the death of Clarence Matthews (born May 1, 1906) on July 22, 2017, Overton became the oldest living American man. Overton was hospitalized for pneumonia in December 2018. He was placed in a rehabilitation center, where he died on December 27, 2018, aged 112 years 230 days.