Texas

He just turned 112, with the help of 'cigars and God.' Meet the nation's oldest man

Richard Overton, America's oldest man, turned 112 on Friday, May 11. The World War II vet still lives in the same Austin, Texas, home he built 72 years ago.
Richard Overton, America's oldest man, turned 112 on Friday, May 11. The World War II vet still lives in the same Austin, Texas, home he built 72 years ago. 2017 AP file photo

The nation's oldest man lives on a street named after — who else — him in Austin, Texas.

He built that house on Richard Overton Avenue 72 years ago, when it was called Hamilton Avenue.

Overton turned 112 on Friday, May 11, and if you happened to be in town, you were invited to celebrate with the supercentenarian and his family, according to KXAN.

He fought in World War II, still enjoys a cigar and once told Steve Harvey the secret to a long life is to "Just keep living. Don't die."

That motto was emblazoned on T-shirts a family friend sold from his porch earlier this week as the town was abuzz over the approach of his birthday, according to the Dallas Morning News, but it's not the only elixir Overton believes has helped him with his longevity.

CPL_Richard_Arvine_Overton,_USA.jpg
Richard Overton during his military service in the 1940s. Wikimedia Commons

On the description of a GoFundMe campaign in his name, run by a cousin for his medical expenses, Overton says "cigars and God" help.

That's right. At 112, he's still smoking those Tampa Sweet Perfectos on his front porch as he waves to passers-by who know him more for his age than his quiet spunk and independent streak.

Overton was born in Bastrop County in 1906. That's a year before Oklahoma became a state.

He was part of a segregated Army unit, the 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion, during World War II and fought in the Pacific Theater from 1942 until 1945. He was at Iwo Jima.

Volma Overton, the cousin who runs the GoFundMe campaign and also a 1960s Austin civil rights leader, told the Austin American Statesman before his 110th birthday: "Richard still smokes cigars every day and has a few shots of whiskey. We have no idea how long he will be around, but Richard says everything is left to God."

Richard Overton
World War II veteran Richard Overton, in a 2013 photo taken at Arlington National Cemetery. He was 107 at the time of the trip for a Veterans Day ceremony in Washington, D.C. Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP archives

His favorite foods include catfish and gravy, corn, hamburgers and macaroni and cheese, according to another Statesman report.

The Gerontology Research Group has verified that Overton is, indeed, the oldest living man in the U.S. He's younger, though, than Lessie Brown (113 yrs., 231 days, of Ohio); Clara Anderson (112 yrs., 313 days, of Alaska); Hester Ford (112 yrs., 269 days, of North Carolina); Iris Westman (112 yrs., 256 days, of North Dakota); Lucille Treccase (112 yrs., 205 days, of Pennsylvania) and J Lillian Stubbs (112 yrs., 11 days, of Virginia), the country's six oldest women.

The world's oldest person is Chiyo Miyako of Japan, who is 117 years and 9 days old, according to the Gerontology Research Group.

Several dozen family and friends attended a watch party July 3 to support Rich Talavera, 70, as he competed in the Kansas City Qualifiers episode of American Ninja Warrior. Talavera holds the record for being the oldest contestant to complete an o

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