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Oldest American Man on Record Dies at Age 112

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Death comes for us all, eventually. But for Texas resident Richard Overton, it came decades later than average. On Thursday, Overton died at the ripe old age of 112, relinquishing the distinction of being the oldest-known man living in the United States.

According to his family, the Guardian reported, Overton had recently come down with pneumonia, needing to be hospitalized. He was sent home on Christmas Eve and died three days later.


Overton’s longevity began to earn him nationwide attention in recent years, and he was something of a hometown hero, having been born near Austin, Texas in 1906, a time when the average life expectancy for men was just under 47 years old. Soon after his death was reported, Texas governor Greg Abbott issued a statement:

“Richard Overton is an American icon and a Texas legend,” Abbott said. “With his quick wit and kind spirit he touched the lives of so many, and I am deeply honored to have known him.”


Overton was also considered to be the oldest-known living World War II veteran, having served in the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion.

Women live longer than men on average, so Overton’s longevity was particularly noteworthy. The vast majority of U.S. residents over the age of 110 are women, with the oldest thought to be 114-year-old Lessie Brown born in 1904, according to the Gerontology Research Group. With Overton’s death, the oldest-known U.S. man is now likely Illinois resident CP Crawford, who turned 111 this September.

The world’s oldest living person on record is 115-year-old Kane Tanaka from Japan, while the oldest-known man is 113-year-old Masazou Nonaka, also from Japan, according to the Gerontology Research Group. The current record for verified human longevity was set by Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died at 122 in 1997, though there has been some dispute over the claim in recent years (Calment’s daughter may have taken over her mother’s identity sometime in the 1930s).