<strongRichard Overton loved cigars and whiskey, two of the things that the Austin-resident credited for his long life. A veteran of World War II, Overton was honored by then President Barack Obama in 2013 for his service and heroism.
Overton died Thursday afternoon. He was 112 and was the oldest man in America. He would have been 113 on May 11, 2019.
He had been hospitalized with pneumonia according to his family.
Overton volunteered for the Army beginning in 1942, serving with the 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion, an all-black unit that served on various islands in the Pacific.
President Obama said of Overton, “He was there at Pearl Harbor when the battleships were still smoldering. He was there at Okinawa. He was there at Iwo Jima, where he said. ‘I only got out of there by the grace of God.'”
Overton’s house in Austin stood on Richard Overton Avenue — renamed just for him. He credited God for living so long but didn’t take any medication.
“I drink whiskey in my coffee. Sometimes I drink it straight,” he said when he was 107. “I smoke my cigars, blow the smoke out; I don’t swallow it.”
In a statement Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called Overton “an American icon and a Texas legend.”
“With his quick wit and kind spirit he touched the lives of so many, and I am deeply honored to have known him,” Abbott said. “Richard Overton made us proud to be Texans and proud to be Americans. We can never repay Richard Overton for his service to our nation and for his lasting impact on the Lone Star State.”
A fan of butter pecan ice cream, Overton says he would eat it every night.
“I still walk, I still talk, and I still drive,” Overton said on camera for the 2015 documentary “Mr. Overton”, before hopping into his Ford F100 Custom pickup truck.
Overton also said in the film he liked to go to church and enjoyed the singing. He also loved caring for his cats.
Overton’s family and friends celebrated his 112th birthday in May by visiting him at his home, KXAN reported.
“I feel fine every day,” KXAN quoted him as telling photographers at the event. “No pain and no aches.”
At the party, a friend had made T-shirts to sell to raise support for Overton’s around-the-clock at-home care. On them, the secret to longevity Overton reportedly gave TV host and comedian Steve Harvey: “Keep living, don’t die.”