Richard Overton, the nation’s oldest living World War II veteran, died on Thursday.
He was 112, which is not a typo.
By some accounts, Overton was also the oldest living man in the United States.
Over the past two decades, as the nation mourned hundreds of thousands of members of the Greatest Generation, Overton plugged along in the Austin home that he bought for a few thousand dollars in 1945.
As his years piled up, so did his honors.
Austin named a street after him. When he was governor, Rick Perry came to visit with Overton on his porch. And in 2013, President Obama celebrated Overton on Veterans Day, inviting him to a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery where he recounted his days in the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion.
“He was there at Pearl Harbor, when the battleships were still smoldering,” Obama said. “He was there at Okinawa. He was there at Iwo Jima, where he said, ‘I only got out of there by the grace of God.’ ”
In his later years, Overton became something of a star. National news outlets, documentary filmmakers and regular folks from around Austin frequently stopped by to hear Overton tell stories and explain his ability to live so long. (His answer wasn’t approved by the American Medical Association.)
Here are some of Overton’s most memorable observations and survival tips:
On going to war: “You don’t want to go into the war if you don’t have to. But I had to go. I enjoyed it after I’d went and come back, but I didn’t enjoy it when I was over there. I had to do things I didn’t want to do.” (USA Today)
On surviving war: “If it’s your time to go, that bullet gonna get ya. If it ain’t your time to go, that bullet going over your head. Man will kill you, but God’s the one keep you alive.” (“Mr. Overton” documentary)
On his cigar habit: “I started smoking cigars when I was 8 years old. I’ve been smoking them ever since.” (Dallas Morning News)
On how many he smokes per day: “I smoke about 12 a day, maybe more than that. I ain’t got nothing else to do.” (KTBC Fox 7-Austin)
On whiskey: “Most of my whiskey is from Tennessee.” (People)
On mixing whiskey and coffee: “When you put that whiskey in there, it makes your muscles get warm.” (Today Show)
On eating ice cream every night: “I eat butter pecan. If you want to buy any, you better buy butter pecan.” (“Mr. Overton” documentary)
On living within his means: “I got a truck out there, and it runs just like I want it, so I just keep it. . . . I don’t fool with a credit card. Never. For everything I get, I pay cash for it.” (“Mr. Overton” documentary)
On death: “You can’t do anything about that. It’s going to come whether you want it or not. Just got to think about living.” (Today Show)
On renewing his driver’s license at age 109: “I like to drive myself 'cause other drivers, they drive crazy.” (“Mr. Overton” documentary)
On cats: “You don’t feed a cat too much 'cause he won’t eat a rat.” (“Mr. Overton” documentary)
On God’s role in his longevity: “No secret. He put me here, and he decides when it’s my time to go.” (People)
On Gov. Rick Perry’s visit: “I’m not excited about it. He’s a human, ain’t he?” (KTBC Fox 7-Austin)
On arriving at Pearl Harbor: “Some of those ships were still smoking when I got there.” (KTBC Fox 7-Austin)
On all of the above: “I’m giving you some of my secrets to a long life. If you don’t use it, that’s your bad luck.” (“Mr. Overton” documentary)
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