AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Saturday morning, hundreds of people bid their final goodbye to the nation's oldest World War II veteran and American icon - Richard Overton.
He was known to enjoy a dab of whiskey in his morning coffee and daily cigars. Things, along with his all-around good nature and humor, is what Mr. Overton attributed to being the secret to his long life.
A life many cherished and celebrated. "I don't smoke but today I'll have a cigar and have a shot of whisky too," said Phil Ferraz, a member of the Post 83 American Legion Austin Texas.
Saturday Mr. Overton's funeral service drew hundreds of people to the Shoreline Church in north Austin. "Today we are here to honor a veteran who was in a war that changed our world," said Ferraz.
Military veteran Tom Goldenschue was one of the Patriot Guard Riders who lined the entrance of the church. He met Mr. Overton once and says he felt a connection.
"I have met Mr. Overton at a VA ceremony. It was pretty inspirational," said Goldenschue.
Inside the church a slideshow displayed memories of Mr. Overton's life and how he was able to touch the lives of so many people. Some he never even met. Volma Overton J.R., Mr. Overton's cousin who was always by his side took a moment to thank World War II Veterans for serving our country.
"So remember when you go home and go to bed tonight and you turn off lights your able to do that thanks to World War II veterans," said Volma Overton.
Governor Greg Abbott and Mayor Steve Adler were among the dignitaries who honored Mr. Overton at the funeral service. Abbott calling him a Texas legend and an American icon. "A solider a survivor a jokester a joy. A man from Texas. He loved this nation and he put his faith in God almighty above all else," said Gov. Abbott.
Just like Mr. Overton-fashion, the governor shared a joke between the two. "He challenged me to a wheelchair race and I got thinking 'man how embarrassing would it be for me to lose a wheelchair race to a man who is 109 years old," said Gov. Abbott.
Mayor Adler also took a moment saying Mr. Overton brought out the best in everyone.
"Mr. Overton will greatly be missed the Austin area has lost everyone's great, great, great grandfather. He allowed us to come together to recognize what is best of us," said Mayor Alder.
Army General John Murray described Overton's time in the military serving in the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion and gave a final salute. "Richard's service sets the stage creating a legacy for those of us came later and those of us who wear the uniform today. It was a legacy of honor professionalism and of courage," said Gen. Murray.
What many people say they'll remember and miss the most about Mr. Overton was not how long he lived, but rather how he lived. Mr. Overton passed away last month at age 112.
Following the service, a procession of police cars and motorcycles escorted Overton to the Texas State Cemetery, just a few blocks from his house in East Austin, where he was laid to rest.