A few things that stand-out in a short film about 109-year-old Richard Overton: He’s the oldest living U.S. veteran; he smokes at least 12 cigars a day; he takes whiskey with his coffee; and he’s still driving his Ford F-100 Custom pickup that he bought with cash decades ago.
Yes, he’s a licensed driver. He had no problem walking up to a DMV counter in Austin, Texas to prove that he’s still got what it takes to drive his truck.
“I still walk. I still talk, and I still drive,” Overton explains during the 12-minute National Geographic film (posted below) that passes along some of his wit and wisdom.
“I just got my license renewed this year. They gave me an eye test. Everything they give me now, I pass it. I feel good going on driving. I like to drive myself ‘cause other drivers…they drive crazy.”
Overton laughs at that last part. His sense of humor and his will to carry on is still very much intact. He keeps his love-life moving along, too, and enjoys having his 91-year-old girlfriend sitting beside him in his truck as they drive to the grocery store and church.
“Church is a wonderful place. Lovely place. Keeps me goin.’ Makes me feel good. I think that helps me push myself along—going to church,” Overton explains. “You learn something at church, too. You learn how to live better…how to treat people. Good to have a spiritual life. But you’ve got to live it.”
Overton’s lived through some of history’s biggest moments, including the arrival of the mass produced automobile. The first car he and his family had ever seen was a Ford bought by a man in town.
“We didn’t know what a car was. We heard about it, but we would never come to town much,” he says.
Though he only made 50 cents a day, Overton eventually plunked down enough cash to buy his first car.
“My first car was a little old Ford, Model T Ford. Had to get in front and crank it. You remember them. Oh no, you wasn’t born then, was you? No, I know you wasn’t,” Overton says, smiling, kidding with his interviewer.
Overton credits his time in the U.S. Army for making him stronger and better prepared to take on life’s bumps in the road. The World War II veteran served from 1942 to 1945 in the Army’s 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion, which included time in the western Pacific.
“Made you more braver, stronger. I can sleep with every door open here without a lock on it. Ain’t scared. Ain’t nothing gonna bother you,” he says.
While troubling debt and other financial issues can be a big bother for a lot of people these days, it’s not a worry for Overton. He’s not one to rush out and buy every new thing that comes along.
“I’ve got a truck out there and it runs just like I want it,” he explains while sitting in the house that he built in 1945.
When Overton does open his wallet, he’s pretty careful about it.
“I don’t fool with a credit card, never. For everything I get, I pay cash for it.”
Besides smoking at least 12 cigars a day, Overton enjoys a diet of fish, soup, coffee, whiskey and butter pecan ice cream.
“I eat ice cream every night. It makes me happy. I eat butter pecan. If you wanna buy any, you better buy butter pecan. And it’s the Overton diet. It’s anybody’s diet that wants to eat it,” he says.
Overton’s advice for living is nearly as simple as his diet.
“If you give up, you’re through. You’re just doubting yourself. I may give out, but I never give up.”
Editor’s Note: Overton turned 110 years old following the release of the film below. Relatives say he now requires more assistance at home. It’s unclear if he’s still able to drive. However, he’s still smoking cigars, drinking whiskey with his coffee and relatives report that he’s as sharp as ever.