Colonel Hugh Samuel Austin, USAF, retired, a loving husband and father of three children, passed away on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, at the age of 88.
Mr. Austin was born on April 10, 1931 in Mooringsport, Louisiana to Walter Tillman Austin and Margaret Ann Austin, and was raised with four siblings: Elizabeth, Mattie, James and John.
He graduated from Louisiana Tech University in 1953 and married Helen Louise Dotson, who would be his constant companion for the rest of his life. That same year he joined the United States Air Force, initially serving as a navigation instructor and then as budget and fiscal officer at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston, Texas. He was then assigned to Strategic Air Command in the 310th Strategic Aerospace Wing as a B-47 navigator at Schilling Air Force Base in Salina, Kansas.
In 1966, Sam received his Master’s of Business Administration degree with honors from George Washington University, and his work in accounting and finances would go on to define his career, both within the armed forces and beyond. In June of that year, he was assigned to the Air Force Accounting and Finance Center in Denver, Colorado, and in 1969 he transferred to Southeast Asia as the audit and finance advisor to the comptroller for the Ministry of National Defense, Republic of South Vietnam, in Saigon. The following year Sam served as deputy financial controller at NATO Headquarters, and from 1971 to 1974 served as director of budgeting for the United States Air Force Headquarters in Europe, during which time he was promoted to the rank of colonel.
His 24 years serving in the United States Air Force was a time of distinction, and among his awards and decorations are the Legion of Merit (twice), the Air Force Medal, the Bronze Star, the Joint Services Commendation Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal.
In 1974, Sam was transferred to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, serving as director of the professional military comptroller course at the Leadership and Management Development Center, and it was in Montgomery that Sam would put down lasting roots. In 1977, he retired from the United States Air Force and became the director of finance for the City of Montgomery, a job which he would hold until his retirement in 2000.
Sam became a community fixture in the city of Montgomery, serving as president of the Montgomery Area United Way, distinguished president of the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery and board member of the Tuskabatchee Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. Sam was a recipient of the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver Award for distinguished service to youth, the Montgomery County Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award for distinguished service to the public, the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Bright Ideas Award for contributions in improving tourism, the Alabama League of Municipalities Distinguished Service Award and the American Society of Military Comptrollers President’s Award for outstanding contributions in the field of financial management. He also served as a board member for the Montgomery Area Family Violence Program, Medical Outreach Ministries and the Gift of Life Foundation. In 2001, Sam was honored as a Senior of Achievement by the Montgomery Area Council on Aging.
His distinguished service to his career is matched by his lifelong commitment to his faith, both as a long-time pillar of support for Whitfield United Methodist Church in Montgomery and as a devoted parishioner of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Franklin. He was an avid golfer and a lover of sports, frequently attending Vanderbilt sporting events in Nashville.
Sam had an infectious smile and a permanent aura of friendliness, neighborliness, inclusion and comradeship. His final years were spent surrounded by family, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and in these surroundings it could be said that Sam realized his greatest joys and most profound accomplishments.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Helen Louise Austin, née Dotson; three children, Hugh Samuel (Patricia) Austin Jr., Edward Tillman (Marianne) Austin and Katie Louise (Scott) Faulkner, née Austin; grandchildren, Sarah Ann (Andrew) Loving, Amy Christina Faulkner, Courtney Ann Austin (Robert) Wahl, Katie Samantha (Bradley) Williams, Ryan Austin and Austin Allen Covington (Yumi) Wilson; and great-grandchildren, Eleanor Ann Loving, Lee Alexander Loving, Emily Irene Williams, Sage Suzanne Wahl, Sadie Grace Wahl and Eliot Clare Williams.
A celebration of life service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church with visitation one hour prior to the service in Otey Hall.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church or United Way.
WILLIAMSON MEMORIAL FUNERAL HOME & CREMATION SERVICES, 615-794-2289. www.williamsonmemorial.com