Richard Overton, America’s Oldest World War II Vet Is 112 And Still Smoking And Drinking

Published May 11, 2018
Updated May 16, 2018

Richard Overton's advice on living a long life? Cigars, whiskey, and just don't die.

Richard Overton Cigar

Cigar AficionadoRichard Overton

“Just keep living, don’t die.” Sage advice from America’s oldest World War II Veteran.

Richard Overton celebrated his 112th birthday on May 11, 2018. Born in Texas’ Bastrop County in 1906, Overton joined the military in 1942. Serving in the South Pacific as a soldier with the 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion, Overton fought in a segregated Army unit.

When he returned in 1945, he worked at furniture stores and then at the Texas Department of Treasury.

He still lives on the same street in the Austin, Texas house he built 72 years ago. One change: the street is named after him, now called Richard Overton Avenue.

World War 2’s oldest veteran feels fine. Sitting on his front porch in a lawn chair smoking a cigar, Overton told reporters gathered outside his home he has “no pain and no aches.”

According to Overton, that cigar is part of why he is alive and well. In addition to the straightforward “don’t die” advice, Overton also gave credit to cigars and a bit of whiskey for living a long life. He smokes 12 to 18 cigars a day and keeps three in his shirt pocket to have at hand. He was even featured in Cigar Aficionado when he was 109 saying that putting a little whiskey in your morning coffee is “like medicine.”

Overton also attributed his health to a focus on living. He takes pleasure in things like trimming his trees or cleaning his driveway. He also said he’s had plenty of milk throughout the years, which has given him strong bones.

Overton has outlived his nine siblings, his wife, and his ex-wife. He never had children, but he has a strong community in Austin. A party to celebrate Overton’s birthday will have two DJs, food, drinks, and plenty of guests from his Texas neighborhood.

Even though he is in good shape, Richard Overton isn’t worried about death. “I didn’t know when I came here, and I don’t know when I’m going,” he said. “That’s God’s work.”


If you enjoyed learning about Richard Overton and his impressive longevity, you may want to check out world’s oldest woman who had an awful diet and lived to be 122. Then read about the world’soldest person who credited being single for her longevity.

Kara Goldfarb
Kara Goldfarb is a writer living in New York City.
Close Pop-in
Like History Uncovered On Facebook

Get The Most Interesting Stories From History In Your Feed