Jun. 3, 1934 Dawson Richardson County Nebraska, USA
Apr. 17, 2011 Omaha Douglas County Nebraska, USA
Helen C. Austin, the daughter of Charlie Smith and Catherine Caroline (Rieger) Funk, was born on June 3, 1934, on the family farm near Dawson, Nebraska. Helen graduated from Dawson-Verdon High School, in Dawson, then attended Tarkio College in Tarkio, Missouri, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology Education.
On August 8, 1955, Helen was united in marriage to Nathan Robert Austin at the Tarkio United Methodist Church. They made their home in Tarkio and became the parents of five children: Patti, Gene, Tim, Marty, and Bob. Following Nate's death in 1966, Helen devoted her life to her children and grandchildren.
Helen taught Biology at Tarkio High School for 32 years, retiring in 1998. She instilled a love of science in many, as evidenced by the number of former students who have pursued careers in a scientific field. For many years, Helen was the manager of the Tarkio Municipal Pool and director of Red Cross swimming lessons. She taught hundreds of children to swim while never once putting her own face in the water! She was a member of the Tarkio United Methodist Church, a founding member of the local chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, and a former member of Beta Sigma Phi and the Mule Barn Theater Guild.
On a personal note, Helen was an avid Tarkio High School supporter even after her retirement. She enjoyed reading and was a frequent patron of the Tarkio library. She also enjoyed collecting Beanie Babies, playing Bingo, jigsaw puzzles, computer games, tending her flowers, keeping up with family and friends on Facebook, baking (especially her well-known pecan tarts and mints), preparing for Christmas months in advance, and babysitting her first great-grandchild, Jarrett.
Surrounded by loved ones, Helen passed away on Sunday, April 17, 2011, at Methodist Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, at the age of 76 years. Besides her parents, Helen was preceded in death by her husband, Nate, and son, Gene (1980). Survivors include daughter, Patti Griffith and her husband, Steve, of Minden, Nebraska; son, Tim Austin and his wife, Pam, of Westside, Iowa; daughter, Marty Farley and her husband, Barney, of Tarkio; and son, Bob Austin, of Tarkio; six grandchildren, Jessica Spinnato and her husband, Steve, Nate Jeter, Alison Austin, Erin Austin, Cathy Farley, and Wyatt Farley; two great-grandchildren, Jarrett Houston and Ryan Spinnato; three step grandchildren, Kile Griffith and his wife, Kari, D'Andra Derr and her husband, Miller, and Seth Griffith and his wife, Lindsey; eight step great-grandchildren; brother, Don Funk and his wife, Betty, of Burnsville, Minnesota; sister, Janet Aitken and her husband, Tom, of Falls City, Nebraska; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Services: 10:00 a.m., Saturday, April, 23, 2011, United Methodist Church, Tarkio. Interment: Home Cemetery, Tarkio. Open Visitation began at 9:30 a.m., Friday, April 22, 2011, at Davis Funeral Home, Tarkio, where the family received friends that evening from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Memorials: National Marfan Foundation. Online obituaries and condolences at www.minterfuneralchapels.com. Services: Davis Funeral Home, Tarkio.