Who is Richard Overton, the United States’ oldest man and World War II veteran who died at the age of 112 on Dec. 27? Here are the highlights of this exceptional man’s life.
Richard Overton was not only the United States’ oldest man, but the nation’s oldest World War II veteran. After being born in 1906, he passed away in Austin, Texas on Dec. 27, 2018 after being hospitalized with pneumonia, his family told CNN. That’s 112 years of life, which he lived to the fullest with a number of accomplishments while still enjoying his “vices”! Here’s what you should know about this charismatic man.
1. President Barack Obama commemorated his service in the Army, after volunteering in 1942. Richard traveled the Pacific islands with the 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion, an all-black unit, and former President Barack Obama reminisced on his bravery. “He was there at Pearl Harbor when the battleships were still smoldering. He was there at Okinawa,” Obama said during a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in 2013. “He was there at Iwo Jima, where he said, ‘I only got out of there by the grace of God.’” The commander in chief added, “His service on the battlefield was not always matched by the respect that he deserved at home. But this veteran held his head high.” However, Richard didn’t like “talking or thinking about the war,” saying he “forgot all that stuff” to CNN five years ago.
2. He worked in the Texas treasury department. After serving three years in the army, he went on to work in furniture and eventually at the state treasurer’s office, when future Texas Governor Ann Richards was in charge (she passed away in 2006).
2. His secret to longevity wasn’t medicine. Quite the contrary, Richard wasn’t a health nut — he thanked God for “living so long,” CNN reported. However, he did have 24/7 home care starting in 2016, thanks to his loving family’s GoFundMe that raised $450,000 so he wouldn’t have to be put in a nursing home!
3. He loved cigars and whiskey. Going off on the point above, Richard never restricted himself! He said he drank whiskey “all my life, ever since I was 18 years old” to Fox 7 Austin on his 112th birthday. He mused, “It don’t hurt you if you know how to drink it…don’t get drunk every thirty minutes.” He also once said he smokes around 12 cigars a day, but “never inhales,” to History.
5. Richard has a documentary about him. If you want to learn even more about this remarkable individual, check out his 12-minute documentary, Mr. Overton, directed by Matt Cooper! It was released through the National Geographic in 2015.