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GoFundMe campaign helps oldest living World War II veteran raise nearly $90K

Richard Overton, oldest WWII US Army veteran
Source: Overton Family
Richard Overton, oldest WWII US Army veteran

In his 110-years of life Richard Overton, witnessed the sinking ships at Pearl Harbor, fought battles across the Pacific Ocean, and watched as other members of the Greatest Generation pass away.

Now, the man believed to be the oldest living World War II veteran just wants to live out the rest of his days in an Austin, TX home he built with his own two hands more than 60 years ago.

With a little help from both strangers and friends, he may see his wish granted.

Volma Overton—the veteran's third cousin and one of his last remaining relatives—created a GoFundMe page to help raise money to provide for his 24-hour home care.

"We all know that moving him out his house will put him in the grave," Volma Overton said. The suggestion came from Overton's daughter, who said the family was deciding what to do after his previous caregiver began to need care herself.

Volma Overton estimated the cost of an in-home caregiver for his relative to be $480 per day. After two days of being open on Dec. 27, the donation page quickly reached its first $50,000 goal, prompting Overton to hike the goal to $100,000.

Currently, the fund currently sits at nearly $89,000. Richard Overton said he will end the campaign once he has secured enough money for a year, unless people are still donating regularly.

Still, he told CNBC he was shocked by the outpouring of help coming from people, asking "All these people care for me?"

Currently Volma Overton and another friend are volunteering their time to stop by the house and make sure Richard is taken care of each day. Overton says there are others who visit Richard from church and the neighborhood, but he said it will be great to have a professional to be with him all day, every day.

"He just needs someone around him just in case he falls to pick him up and make sure he's not hurt." Overton said.


Oldest Living Veteran

Richard served in the army infantry during WWII and left service after the war was won. Overton said his family has reached out to Veteran Affairs for assistance, but the agency could only offer a nurse for 3 hours a day, or have Richard moved to assisted living.

Volma Overton, however, said their goal is to respect Richard's wishes to stay in his home until he dies.

"That house has so much to do with his happiness, his joy and his love for humanity and everything else," Overton said.

Martin Wilford, a close, long-time friend of Richard who worked with him at the Texas State Capitol since the 70s, said Richard's favorite thing to do is to joke and tell stories with anyone who will visit him out on his front porch.

"He will say some things man, that will make you fall out of your chair," Wilford said. "I don't care what color or what religion, he loves people."

Secret to Long Life

Overton said Richard mind is still sharp and his memory is intact. He faults Richard great health as a positive that negatively affects Richard's ability to get government assistance.

He said Richard's only secret to long life is smoking Tampa Sweet cigars and drinking whiskey every day.

He drinks "one [shot of whiskey] to wake him up and get him going and one to put him asleep, and the cigars in between," Overton said.