The early October heat didn’t bother the group of ACC students and employees who spent the day working at an old East Austin house. They dirtied their hands planting flowers, built a fence around the yard, and cleaned every inch of the house. They did it all for Richard Overton, the 107-year-old homeowner, believed to be the oldest living World War II veteran.
Overton, a lifelong Texan who built the house after his service in the U.S. Army, looked on as the ACC team – along with volunteers from Home Depot, the University of Texas at Austin, the City of Austin’s Veterans Services Office, and other organizations – painted the house, replaced broken windows, built a new porch, and installed an air conditioning unit.
“I appreciate all the work they’re doing. I would’ve never been able to afford all of this on my own,” Overton says. “I wish they could come out and do this every day.”
The home makeover’s roots have an ACC connection. Overton met ACC professor Dr. Nancy Glass, a longtime advocate for veterans and service members, when she escorted him on an Honor Flight through Honor Flight Austin – a chapter of a national group that helps veterans travel to the World War II memorial in Washington D.C. Since that flight, Glass has frequently visited Overton at his home near Eastview Campus.
Allen Bergeron, chairman of Honor Flight Austin, recently contacted Glass about the Home Depot Foundation Celebration of Service, an initiative to complete service projects benefiting veterans and their families. Glass wrote a proposal to have Overton’s house made over, and the Home Depot Foundation accepted it. On Oct. 3, Overton’s house got its overhaul.
Overton says he is most looking forward to spending time on the repaired porch, where he will enjoy his whiskey-stiffened coffee and cigars. He doesn’t watch TV, preferring to spend time driving his 1979 Chevy truck, mowing the grass, and attending church.
“He is such a remarkable man,” Glass says. “I’ve felt very lucky to have the opportunity to get to know him.”
ACC student Lauren McIntyre spent her only day off from work and classes helping at Overton’s house. She says she would’ve done anything to have the opportunity to meet someone with such a rich history.
McIntyre says: “He selflessly served our country – the very least we can do is help improve his home.”
For information on services for veterans at ACC, visit the Veterans Affairs webpage.
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