Nation’s oldest veteran turns 111, receives permanent Austin honor

Richard Overton, nation's oldest veteran, got a permanent honor in Austin (KXAN photo/Jorge Rodas)
Richard Overton, nation's oldest veteran, got a permanent honor in Austin (KXAN photo/Jorge Rodas)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It would be hard to believe anyone in Austin hasn’t heard of Richard Overton.

The World War II veteran’s journey through this life has been well chronicled. He’s been honored with plaques and memorial gardens. He’s visited the White House to meet President Barack Obama. Thursday, the county’s oldest living veteran will again be honored with a permanent display of recognition that anyone walking or driving through his East Austin neighborhood can see.

The city is renaming Hamilton Avenue, a street Overton has called home for over seven decades, Richard Overton Avenue.

“They’re putting the sign out here, putting the street sign all the way out there,” Overton told KXAN.

Richard is celebrating his 111th birthday Thursday. He considers the city’s birthday gift humbling. That’s saying a lot considering Overton has seen many things, as he says, “all over the world – water, land, and air.”

Overton will be treated to a birthday luncheon and a street renaming ceremony outside his home.

He tries to stay humble despite his local celebrity status. When asked for his secret to living more than eleven decades, Overton gave the same response he has for years.

“God gave me this,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do about it but laugh, be glad.”

He did have a message for young people, one he admits was hard for him to accept in his glory days.

“I’d tell them behave themselves,” said Overton.

While the city celebrates his birthday, Overton says he’ll spend Thursday doing what he loves most; sitting out on his porch, cigar in hand, enjoying life.

“That’s just a happy place to be,” he said.

He really loves that porch.

“You’re supposed to have a porch where you can sit and relax and look at the world, look at the sunshine, look at the moon, get in the sun,” he said.

The street naming ceremony will be at 3 p.m. It will take place in front of Overton’s home in the 2000 Block of Hamilton Avenue (now Richard Overton Avenue). The ceremony will be followed by a birthday party to last through 7 p.m.

In December 2016, family, friends and admirers across the country rallied together to help Overton find the care he needed so he could stay in the home he built in 1945.

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