AUSTIN, Texas - World War II veteran Richard Overton would have been 115 on May 11 this year and those hoping to honor him with a memorial monument are asking for help to finish the project.
Overton died on December 27, 2018 at the age of 112 and at the time of his death was the nation's oldest living veteran. Overton's funeral was held on January 12, 2019 and he was buried with full military honors at the Texas State Cemetery.
Donna Brown and Gilbert Beall of Beall Memorial Art began plans to sculpt a memorial monument for Overton. The monument's remaining cost is an estimated $13,000 and things slowed down and stopped once the pandemic hit. Work has restarted but donations are still needed to complete the project.
If you'd like more information about the marker or to donate you can contact Beall Memorial Art at 512-380-9889.
LIFE OF RICHARD OVERTON
Overton was born near Bastrop in 1906 and served in the army for three years during World War II. He spent the majority of his life in Austin and was often seen on the porch of his home, which he built in East Austin in 1945.
He gave credit to God for his longevity, but he always said cigars and whiskey helped. "I been smoking cigars from when I was 18 years old, I’m still a smoking ‘em. 12 a day," he once said.
The distinction of being the nation's oldest veteran brought quite a few visitors to his front porch.
One person that graced that porch was former Gov. Rick Perry on Memorial Day in 2013. On Veterans Day the same year, former President Barack Obama honored Overton in front of thousands in Washington.
"His service on the battlefield was not always matched by the respect that he deserved at home. But this veteran held his head high," Obama said.
In late 2016, Overton required 24/7 care and his family started a GoFundMe that reached more than $450,000 so he was able to stay in his home.
As for being the nation’s oldest veteran, Richard Overton was grateful. He said, "I ain’t gettin rich but I feel glad."
RICHARD OVERTON HONORED
Overton was honored over the years including when he turned 111. The Austin City Council gave the street he lived on for more than 70 years an honorary name, Richard Overton Avenue.
A portion of Airport Boulevard was also renamed in memory of Overton.