At 111 years old, Richard Overton is the oldest living veteran in the United States. The Austin native was born in 1906—a year before the paper towel was invented—and has outlived the majority of his friends and family. All the while, Overton continues to prove age is but a number.
Dallas News recently caught up with the supercentenarian while he was holding court in front of the Austin home he built for himself nearly 70 years ago. Even in the Texas heat, Overton is known to spend up to 10 hours a day on the covered porch (that is fondly referred to by neighbors as the Army vet’s “stage”) entertaining passersby and smoking his beloved Tampa Sweet cigar.
Overton served in the Army during World War II. His segregated unit arrived by boat to Pearl Harbor just moments after the Japanese bombing. President Barack Obama honored his service at a 2013 Veteran’s Day ceremony at White House, and, two years later, National Geographic released a short documentary about his life.
Despite a recent stint in the hospital to treat a bout of pneumonia, Overton is largely healthy. He wakes up at 3am most days and drinks two to four cups of coffee while walking around his house to “increase blood flow to his limbs.” He enjoys 12 cigars a day and likes a whiskey and Coke. His 24-hour caregivers keep him fed and help keep track of all the daily visitors.
The article reports that more than 200 people turned out for Overton’s 111th birthday party on May 11, and most came bearing gifts of fancy cigars and whisky. When the rising cost of at-home care threatened to move Overton from his longtime home last year, the community rallied together and raised nearly $200,000 via a GoFundMe page to help defray costs.
When asked what he credits with his longevity, Overton’s answer is simple: God and cigars. And while he had to stop driving a few years ago and his mobility has declined a bit in the wake of his last hospital visit, he remains grateful for his life and the people in it.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” he told Dallas News. “I just sit out here [on the porch] and rest.”
(h/t Dallas News)
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