Maurene Austin, Andrews County Librarian from 1951 to 1982, passed away at home Wednesday, July 31, 2019, at the age of 93. Friends and family will gather to celebrate her life at 2:00 PM Saturday, August 3, 2019 at Means Memorial United Methodist Church with Pastor Les Hall officiating. Interment will follow in the Andrews West Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 6 – 8 PM Friday, August 2, 2019 at the funeral home. Please visit www.mcnettfuneralhome.com for obituary information, visitation and service details, and family pictures and video.
Born in Melbourne, Arkansas, October 4, 1925, she grew up during the hard times of the great depression and World War II. She met her husband to be, Russell D. Austin, while a student at Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos, Texas while working in Williams Drug Store soda fountain. Russell was an Army Air Corps navigation student at the training base outside the city. He came to the soda fountain each time he was in town and they flirted every time he was there. Just before he was to leave for deployment to England, they had one date and got engaged! She got the news his B-17 bomber had been shot down over Germany on his 5th mission and was missing in action, often a prelude to news of death. Fortunately he had been able to bail out and elude capture for three days, but was captured and sent to a POW camp. She and he corresponded on the small, very thin paper forms allowed and were able to keep in touch for over a year before his camp was liberated and he got shipped back to America. Shortly after his return, they were married July 12, 1945 in San Marcos on the “hottest day in the world”, with the church candles melting and the flowers all wilting, but the marriage was a loving and lasting one. They lived with Russell’s parents briefly until Russell heard of the oil boom in west Texas and hitchhiked out to check it out. The boom meant there was a great need for teachers. He was hired in Andrews and went back for Maurene and brought her back. The desolate dusty, mainly treeless little boomtown was quite a shock and yet they made it their home for the rest of their lives and played significant parts in its growth and maturity. She and Russell were both teachers. She also worked at a local dry goods store. Her son, Bill, was born in April, 1947. She and Russell decided he would further his education so he could become an administrator. They moved to Dallas and he signed up to enroll in SMU. While they were waiting for the semester to begin, they passed time reading Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason stories to each other and he made the comment, “You know, I have always thought I would like to be a lawyer.” She replied, “Why not?” So they packed up, moved to Austin and he enrolled in The University of Texas Law School. She worked various jobs until her daughter Sherry Kay was born in May 1950. When he graduated, they moved back to Andrews. She helped with his office, working on client tax returns and other matters. After first working as a teacher, due to her experience working in her college library, Maurene was hired as the librarian for the Andrews County Library, which had been established as a result of the local ladies’ Andrews Study Club. She dearly loved the job, especially working with the public. Her favorite part was the Saturday morning story hour when she would read and act out children’s books, with different voices for the characters and actions described in the stories. She also helped many a library patron with research and general recommendations. In June, 1957, her second daughter, Sylvia, was born. All her children attended Andrews schools through high school graduation. Maurene played a significant role in the design of the library remodel in 1965-67 when the north wing was converted to house a museum and the south wing was expanded and renovated into a new facility. In addition to her job at the library, she was active in the community as a 4H leader, Sunday school teacher at Means Memorial Methodist Church and Study Club member and officer. She loved to crochet, including making yards of lace for Sylvia’s wedding gown. She was a prize-winning, accomplished seamstress. She made many clothes for her family through the years from the time of her youth until her later years. She was an accomplished cook, having started at an early age, especially pies and candy. Her pecan millionaires were a staple at family Christmases. In 1978, after the birth of the first grandchild in Houston, she and Russell decided they needed a meeting place somewhere between Houston and Andrews. They found a small place at Spicewood on Lake Travis. A couple years later, they bought a larger lot with a lake view and made a marvelous vacation place that all the family used for years. She and Russell both retired in 1982 and they did a lot of traveling and sight-seeing all over the USA in whatever convertible he had at the time. Russell passed away in 1998 and she remained in Andrews in the house they built in 1959 until her death. Maurene was preceeded in death by her parents, her husband, Russell, and one sister, Earlene Baurline. She is survived by three sisters: Velma Postert, Virginia Gambrell and Barbara Dubose Simpson.
She is survived by three children: William Earl Austin of Temple, Texas; Sherry Kay Hendrick Janke (husband Kenneth Janke) of Temple Texas; and Sylvia Gay McBrayer (husband Lee Scott McBrayer) of Andrews. She has four grandchildren, Cristina Marie Stroh (husband Matthew Stroh) of McKinney, Texas; Sharina Renee Rodriguez (husband Raymond Rodriguez) of Brownfield, Texas; Shawn Russell McBrayer (wife Cheyenne McBrayer) of Lubbock, Texas; and Stephanie Lanae McBrayer of Austin, Texas. She has five great-grandchildren: Ilana Lanae Rodriguez, Isaac Raymond Rodriguez, Avriel Renee Rodriguez, Evalyn Marie Stroh and Collin Russell Stroh.
In Leu of flowers the family has asked donations to be made toward Friends Of The Library in Andrews, Texas.