February 9, 1925 - May 17, 2016
Reflections of Our Father, James Nelson Austin, Sr., A Life Well Lived Our father, James Nelson Austin departed this life Tuesday, May 17, 2016 to be with our Lord Jesus. He was born February 9, 1925 in Farmville, Virginia to James Austin and Mary Elizabeth “Bessie” Early Austin. He was their only son and the last child born to this union with ten children. His nine sisters, whom he loved dearly were Louise Allen, Fannie Booker, Inez Venable, Frazure Young (James cared for Frazure from 2003 to her death in 2006), Hattie Austin (died as a baby), Minnie Darben, Altomae Cox, Mary Cook and Martha Brown. All predeceased James. Our grandfather died when our father was 8 years old and his sisters had an important role in helping their mother care and raise him. The older sisters sent him to a boarding school, Thyne Institute in Chase City, Virginia. In recent years James reconnected with two fellow alumni from Thyne, Hilton Burton (who attended his 90th birthday celebration) and Tyree Jones (whose aunt taught at the school). He maintained a friendship with his childhood friend, Twitty Styles for well over eighty years. They shared phone conversations regularly, and recently while our father was in a rehab center, he and Twitty spoke of their growing up days in Farmville as if it were just yesterday. What a wonderful friendship he had with Twitty! In 1943 he joined the army and was part of an amphibious group in Florida. His major responsibility was fueling boats. He was honorably discharged in 1946 with World War II Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal and American Service Medal. When returning to Farmville, our father decided to go to school at St Paul’s Polytechnic Institute in Lawrenceville, Virginia, to learn a trade, brick masonry. He played football for a short while at St. Paul’s. He joked about one reason he joined the team was to get on the training table to eat well. When the coach asked him was he returning for another season, he declined not wanting to take those heavy blows on the field. Once gaining his trade, our father worked for the Taylor Construction Company in Farmville. One of his first building assignments was a church. He shared how there was a circular window on the church’s steeple which was difficult to brick, and the contractor sent away for pre-cut bricks. He loved the calling which God placed on his life, and he was a life long builder with his handiwork in Virginia, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey and Texas. In the late 1940s he met Beatrice “Doll” Carter, fell deeply in love and married on October 10, 1949. They first lived in Acme (Now named Riegelwood after the paper mill there), North Carolina. He and our mother had a dry cleaning business, but eventually our father sought masonry work in New York. James became James, Sr. and he was the proud father when his first child, James N. Austin, Jr. was born to the union in Wilmington, NC. A little over a year later, our parents celebrated the birth of their daughter, Iris, also in Wilmington, NC. Our dad moved north to New Jersey responding to an ad for masons in Fort Lee, New York. Our grandmother and many of our aunts lived with their husbands and families in that area. He sent for his wife and children. Our parents bought another home in Orange, NJ. There beloved third child, Rennard C. Austin was born in New Jersey. With the encouragement of our mom, James took the civil service exam, scored well and began working for the State of New Jersey at William Paterson College in the maintenance department. He was well respected and liked by administration, colleagues, as well as students. To this day he had maintained contact with friend/coworker, Tony Orlando of New Jersey. James retired in 1988, and he and my mother relocated to Texas to join we three children. One of our father’s fondest construction projects was building our family’s 3rd home on Dewey Street in Bloomfield, NJ in the early 1960. The construction crew was made up of family and friends who charged nothing for the labor. His nephew, Howard Booker was right by his side in this project. He loved Howard like a brother, and they both reared their families on Dewey Street. Once our parents sold their New Jersey home and made their way to Fort Worth, Texas, they extended their circle of friends. Both enjoyed bowling and bowled in numerous leagues from their earliest days in Texas. Family and friends were always welcome in the Austin home. Extended family meals were part of our tradition and later passed to his sons, celebrating Christmas dinner in the home of James and Gloria Austin and Thanksgiving dinner in the home of Rennard and Joanie Austin. He had 10 grandchildren, Tara Reed, Tanya K Hailey, Ayesha Davis, Ashanti Austin (deceased), James Austin, III, Christopher Austin, Keisha Austin, Jimeka Martin, Jacque Martin, and Jenelle Sutton, whom he loved dearly. He always celebrated their birthdays with a card and gift. He loved visits and phone calls from them and his 15 great-grandchildren. In addition he took great joy speaking regularly on the phone to his niece, Altomese Booker-Tracey of Florida, her 5 daughters, one being his god-daughter, Leigh Booker, and his great-nephew, Dana Berry of Germany. Anyone who knew our father, knew he was a very generous, giving man. He often spoke of the children (Elei Kabale Shimbi and Therese Matchaio Matuka B) he sponsored in Africa through World Vision. This sponsorship began in February 2004 and he faithfully contributed monthly to this organization and as well as countless others until his hospitalization did not permit. He also believed wholeheartedly in supporting the endeavor to bringing enlightenment to the role of African Americans, as well as others in the developing of the West. He supported the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum and enthusiastically attended many of their events. Recently our father made contact with his high school, Thyne Institute and provided a donation for a memorial brick at the memorial building in memory of his sister, Inez Austin Venable, a 1932 graduate of Thyne Institute. He had a big heart which extended to many causes. James loved the Lord Jesus and daily started his day with devotional reading of Our Daily Bread, The Daily Word, and the Holy Bible; (the 23rd Psalm). He joined the Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church. He was faithful in his attendance until his illness would not allow him. He loved worshiping God at Mt. Pisgah and attending Wednesday mission and prayer meeting and his Matthew Sunday School class. One favorite thing our father would always say was, “I get along with everybody, and I just want everybody to get along with each other.” He had an infectious, hardy laugh. He cared deeply for his family and friends throughout his 91 years. Truly he leaves a legacy of loving, caring and sharing, and a life well lived.
Reflections of Our Father, James Nelson Austin, Sr., A Life Well Lived Our father, James Nelson Austin departed this life Tuesday, May 17, 2016 to be with our Lord Jesus. He was born February 9, 1925 in Farmville, Virginia to James... View Obituary & Service Information
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