Richard Overton, longtime Austin resident and celebrated WWII veteran, was 112 and the oldest man in America when he died in late 2018. He once joked with comedian Steve Harvey that the secret to his longevity was simple: "Keep living, don’t die."
Now, as the world buckles under the weight of a global pandemic, that pithy but profound message will appear on billboards around the country after Jonathan "Chaka" Mahone’s design featuring the quote from was selected as a winner in billboard company Outfront’s Outframe 2020 competition.
MERCH MONDAY: ’Keep living, don’t die’ tee honors Richard Overton
In May 2018, Mahone and his wife, Ghislaine "Qi Dada" Jean, a.k.a. Riders Against the Storm, rallied the East Austin community to throw a block party birthday bash for Overton.
Overton’s family had been raising money for his home health care. To support their efforts, Mahone, an accomplished visual artist and clothing designer, created a T-shirt sharing the supercentenarian’s wisdom.
"At the time, it was uncertain whether they would have the necessary funds to keep him in his home of 70 plus years," Mahone wrote on Facebook Wednesday. "I took it upon myself to do whatever was in my power to share Mr. Overton's story."
Now Overton’s wisdom lives on.
In addition to submitting the design to the billboard competition, Mahone, with the blessing of Overton’s family, has released a collection of T-shirts, hoodies, coffee mugs and more featuring the design.
"The man didn't complain. He knew what he liked, and he did what he felt like doing. Always," Mahone wrote. "His wisdom and way of life was simple to some. But, when it's all said and done, life is actually simple. And, longevity can truly be found when we strip away the excess."
"Two years later, Overton is still out here in the world, making a difference in my life," he wrote.