AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Richard Overton was still “livin good” in his words ahead of his 112th birthday...sharp as ever, talking about cigars, whiskey...and of course being the oldest Veteran and oldest man in the country.
“I always thought that he would be around forever but unfortunately that’s not the case, we have to say our goodbyes,” said Mr. Overton’s friend Allen Bergeron.
The “old soldier” as Bergeron always called him.
Bergeron, with Honor Flight and the City of Austin, says Mr. Overton wasn’t just a Veteran of the Second World War and a hero...he was also a man of character that everyone should emulate.
“We need to take some plays out of his book and to practice kindness and love regardless of political views, regardless of race, regardless of everything. He used to always tell me ‘Allen all of our blood is red,’” Bergeron said.
Bergeron, the Overton family and many others from the Austin community paid their final respects to Richard Overton Friday afternoon at a public viewing ahead of Saturday’s funeral.
Larry Mercadel is an Austin Vietnam Veteran. Air Force. He says he once had one of those famous chats with Mr. Overton on his now iconic front porch. “The fact that the man, especially African American, who was born in 1906 and had to go through what he had to go through living in the United States of America and now today he’s actually being celebrated as a hero. That has to be an awesome, awesome change in transition for him. The attitudes have changed over times. And we’ll continue to get better and better,” Mercadel said.
Mr. Overton’s cousin Volma has been a big part of his life in recent years.
Volma’s daughter Sarah was there Friday. She says she launched the GoFundMe page that helped raise money for her fourth cousin’s healthcare so he could stay in his East Austin home.
“Last time I looked it was about $450,000 which I think the rest of the money we’re going to be donating to Honor Flight Austin,” Overton said.
Born in 1906. Can you believe that? Mr. Overton’s longevity is an inspiration.
“Absolutely, continue to go on you know? There’s no reason to stop,” Mercadel said.
Saturday’s funeral is at 11:00 at Shoreline Church in North Austin.
Governor Abbott and Mayor Adler will be speaking.
It’s followed by a 2:00 burial at the State Cemetery.