AUSTIN, Texas - On Thursday night, Austin City Council voted to approve historic landmark designation for Richard Overton’s home.
Overton died at age 112, in December 2018. Since his death, his East Austin home has been preserved, much like a time capsule with every pill, every post-it, remaining neatly in its place.
“That house is still the same -- and walking in here and not seeing him -- and every time I come in the door, I expect him to say something,” said Overton’s cousin, Volma Overton.
At the time of his death, Richard Overton was the oldest verified WWII survivor and man in the United States. He had become a celebrity of sorts, known for his wit and unconventional tips for longevity. Each day, he passed the time drinking whiskey and smoking cigars.
“It has a good taste for me. I don't inhale it, I just smoke it and blow the smoke out.” Richard Overton said in a 2018 interview.
Today, his last cigar, half a Tampa Sweet, remains untouched on the table next to his favorite living room recliner.
“I don’t wanna do anything with [the cigar], those ashes are precious to me. You know, those were his last ashes and the last cigar he smoked,” Volma Overton said.
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Volma Overton admits the home's meticulous preservation is in part due to sentiment.
“I think about him every day, and literally the last many years of his life I was seeing him just every day,” he said.
He says it was during those last few years, Richard Overton asked for his home to be preserved.
“His final request was he wanted his home to become a museum so all the people that gave to him so he could remain in his home could come and see all the stuff that it had," Volma Overton said.
A GoFundMe had been set up during the last few years of Richard Overton’s life -- enabling him to receive in-home care.
“I think Richard's big plan was to give back to everyone who had given so he could live in his home, and he lived in his home to his very last days,” Volma Overton said.
Thanks to the designation, Volma Overton is one step closer to fulfilling Richard Overton’s wish -- to share the home with those who ensured he was able to stay in it.
“It’s such an honor and it means for me, that Richards legacy will live on, and that gives his legacy more life to live on and the opportunity to be here way beyond my time,” he said.
Volma Overton was careful to point out that just because the home is receiving the designation, it does not automatically become a museum. He says he would like to work with a nearby university to coordinate tours, but says he still has a long way to go.