On August 26, 2020

John Warren Austin, 93

John Warren Austin died on Aug. 15, 2020.  He was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, the son of Merton and Elizabeth Austin on July 17, 1927.  John joined the U.S. Navy just before World War II ended and he always credited his enlistment for bringing that war to its end.  He later served in the Naval Reserve as a Seabee for several years.

A graduate of Stony Brook Prep School, New York,  and Fairleigh Dickinson College, New Jersey, he began work at Roofers Supplies, an Austin family business, before leaving to start his own construction firm.  He built and renovated houses in New Jersey from 1954 to 1969, when he and his family left New Jersey for Vermont.  Living in Killington for 35 years he combined his love of skiing with home construction until he passed his hammer along to his son, Ken Austin.

Shortly after moving to Killington, he became a town lister and discovered many back roads which he explored on his off-road motorcycle.  In 1972, when his daughters begged to have a pool built in their back yard, John decided the whole town needed one.  He recruited 11 other community members who tirelessly worked to build a town recreation area, which initially included a swimming pool in 1975, and later grew to include soccer and baseball fields, basketball and tennis courts, a playground and a picnic area.  John lived to see his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren find joy in this public recreation area.

John was never one to let the grass grow under his feet.  When he retired from his residential construction business, he used that time to perfect his tennis game, took up the game of golf and skied as much as possible – all into his late 80’s.

John’s greatest love was reserved for his family.  He married Marion (Pfost) in October 1950 and they would have celebrated their 70th anniversary this year.  He is survived by his son, Kenneth (& Teri) Austin of Poultney; his daughter, Gail (& Greg) Howard, West Ossipee, New Hampshire; and, youngest daughter, Janice (& Lee) St. Onge, of Stowe.  His grandchildren include Kate (& Cory) Austin-Avon, Glens Fall, New York; Erika (& Rafae Khan) Austin, South Burlington; Matthew (& Sammi Liang) Howard, Manhattan, New York; Patrick (& Ashley) Howard, Mamaroneck, New York; Mackenzie St. Onge, Park City, Utah; and Austin St. Onge, Stowe.  Great-grandchildren, “his little darlins” as he called them (and grandchildren), include Henry, Daniel, and Elizabeth Austin-Avon and Paul Howard.  He is also survived by his beloved nieces and nephews.  He was predeceased by his parents, three brothers and three sisters.

John left a legacy of love and kindness to all who came in contact with him.  He spent the last two years of his life at The Pines nursing home, where he received excellent care and kindness from The Pines staff.  He always had a smile and a “thank you” for his caregivers.

Due to Covid-19, a private graveside service will be held at a later date.  There will be no calling hours.  The family held a  90th birthday party for John in 2017, where so many of his friends and family came to celebrate his life.  We are grateful that he had a chance to hear from his friends and family directly how much he meant to them.  It is impossible to sum up 93 years of a life so well lived, but if you were to try, his son-in-law Greg Howard captured the essence of who John was the best at his 90th party: “John has done something that I’ve never known anyone else to do.  I have never heard him say anything negative or a mean thing about anybody.  I mean literally anybody.  That is a great thing to try and achieve.”

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for contributions in memory of John Austin to either (1) The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research at michaeljfox.org/donate or by mail at Donation Processing, The Michael J. Fox Foundation, P.O. Box 5014, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5014; OR, (2) The Church of the Wildwood, wildwoodumc.org  P.O. Box 37, Chittenden, VT 05737.

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