AUSTIN — Following the news that Richard Overton -- a beloved Austinite and the country's oldest World War II veteran -- had died at the age of 112, the community gathered in East Austin to remember his life Dec. 27.
A mural of Overton on 12th and Chicon streets became the meeting spot for a small vigil in his honor. People lit candles and shared their memories of the old World War II veteran and Austin icon.
“It was just an honor to be able to know him and meet him,” said Jonathan Chaka Mahone, who visited mural. “He had a great sense of humor. He had a great just way of living. He was just a very simple man but he had a deep truth about him that was just a privilege to be around."
Overton, among other greats such as Michael Jackson and Selena, clearly stands out from the rest on the mural.
The artist behind it all is Chris Rogers. Rogers finished painting the mural in February. He said he added Overton about half way through because the community petitioned for him to be on there. Earlier this year, Overton had the chance to see the mural of himself and even took a photo with it, copying his same smile. Rogers said overall, this moment is bittersweet.
“Obviously sadness has been going through my mind when I was looking at the picture and since I heard the news and -- really since I heard he was sick last week -- but also gratitude,” Rogers said. “Gratitude that I was able to meet him this year. Gratitude that there are enough people that have communicated to me that he should be on this wall and included on this wall (being) the icon that he is.”
Rogers had the opportunity to finally meet Overton this year and said he was funny and full of life.
Looking at the mural -- with a cigar in hand and a big smile on his face -- is how the community will remember Overton.