Mr. Overton Goes to Washington

Austin's beloved 111-year-old veteran makes monumental trip to Washington, D.C.

Austin's beloved 111-year-old veteran makes monumental trip to D.C.

Richard Overton World War II vet
Richard Overton took a trip to D.C. — and the Washington Post followed along. Wikimedia Commons

Over the past few years, Richard Overton has enjoyed a burst of celebrity in the Capital City. At 111 years old, he is Austin's oldest living resident, and the country's oldest surviving World War II veteran. From his porch in East Austin, Overton is known for holding court; receiving visitors; and enjoying the flowers, whiskey, and cigars, which he credits for his longevity.

According to the Washington Post, Overton was sitting on that porch last week when he mentioned he would like to see the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. A day later, Overton was on fellow Austinite Robert Smith's private jet bound for the district.

It's worth noting that since it opened in fall 2016, the museum has been one of the hottest tickets in town, frequently booking up reservations weeks — sometimes months — in advance. Fortunately for Overton, the billionaire Smith donated $20 million to the Smithsonian for its construction, which we assume gets him past the line.

The Post reports that on April 8, Overton enjoyed a private tour before its opening and was even on the receiving end of a phone call from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who personally welcomed him to the museum.

Perhaps the most charming part of the visit, however, came when Overton came across an exhibit about former President Barack Obama. Writes the Post: "When he came across the museum exhibit featuring the former president, he sat up a little taller in his wheelchair. 'Yes, sir!' he said. 'That’s my friend.'" (Not only has Overton met Obama, the former president also honored him during a special Veterans Day ceremony in 2013.)

As for Overton, he's back in Austin, and we imagine he's sitting on that same porch, sipping whiskey, enjoying his flowers, and awaiting his 112th birthday on May 11.