America's oldest veteran receiving major home repairs

Richard Overton smiles at a ceremony to name the Austin VA Outpatient Clinic’s healing garden in his honor on Friday, April 7, 2017. He served in the U.S. Army from 1942-1945 during World War II in the Pacific Theater.

AUSTIN, Tx. — America’s oldest World War II veteran will temporarily be off his beloved porch as the home he’s been living in since 1948 undergoes major repairs.

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Richard Overton, who turned 111 in May, is the latest recipient of the Meals on Wheels Central Texas' Home Repair Program, which is a partnership with the Home Depot Foundation and provides veterans home repairs at no cost to make their houses safer.

“We’re honored and pleased to provide the necessary repairs to help him live there independently,” said Adam Hauser, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels Central Texas. “He’s an icon in our community.”

Repairs to Overton’s home, which cost an estimated $35,000, include replacing the original 1948 wiring, installing a central air and heating system, widening doors, moving carpet and installing laminated floors to reduce trip hazards and replacing the electrical service and main panel to prevent dangerous conditions. Since the Meals on Wheels Central Texas’ Home Repair Program began in 2014, about 113 homes have been repaired or renovated for veterans.

The repairs will wrap up in about two weeks, and in the meantime Overton is staying at a local hotel. In December, Overton's family launched a GoFundMe page to hire around-the-clock home health care to keep the veteran living in his home. Donations poured in from across the country, but have now stalled at about $194,735. The goal is $200,000.

Overton’s home sits on Hamilton Avenue in East Austin, and this spring the Austin City Council passed a resolution to give the street the honorary name Richard Overton Avenue.

Aside from providing meals to seniors, Hauser said it is a priority for the organization to also assist older adults who want to continue living in their homes.

“It’s a great pleasure to serve that community,” he said. “And particularly the brave men and women who have served our country and wish to live out the remainder of their lives in their own homes.”