June 5, 1933 - August 16, 2016
Husband, father and teacher Curtis Joseph Austin passed away peacefully at home in Moses Lake on August 16, surrounded by family, after a long battle with cancer. Services will be announced when set. He was born on June 5, 1933 in Missoula, Montana to Curt James Austin and Mary Monahan Austin.Curt was the sixth of seven children.His father converted to Catholicism in order to marry his mother, and Curt was proud of his Irish Catholic heritage. His father owned a general store,the “C.J. Austin Co.” in Missoula for many years.The store, where Curt grew up, has been named to the historic register. He graduated from high school in Missoula, and after working for a number of months at the Mercantile (a local department store), decided college was preferable to working, enrolling at the last minute at what was then Montana State University, since renamed University of Montana.He confessed to his family that he was a somewhat indifferent student in high school, which everyone finds funny given his lifelong love of reading and learning.After completing a degree in business, Curt was drafted and joined the Navy in 1955. He spent nearly two years in the Pacific, spending much of his time at sea reading history and literature from the Yorktown’s library, including Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, citing that as one of his inspirations for becoming a teacher.He returned to Missoula after a short stint as a clerk at the State Department, and pursued a master’s degree in education. He was recruited from Montana to teach in Moses Lake, where he taught language arts and history at Frontier Junior High, starting in 1960.A few years later, he met Patty Jo, his wife of 52 years, when she joined the Frontier Junior High teaching staff straight out of college in 1963. They were married a year later. This romance was quite the talk at a junior high! Despite never having wrestled, he coached wrestling at Frontier for six years, four years as head coach. In 1970, he moved from Frontier to Moses Lake High School, where he taught English for the next 22 years until his retirement in 1992.During his tenure at the High School, he was a creative teacher, who pioneered many different courses such as “Psychological Literature”, and he heard back over the years from many of his students about their memorable time in his class.He’s remembered for his irreverence, his somewhat sarcastic sense of humor, and also for his patience with students having difficulty in class. He loved teaching. Curt taught English as a second language to Japanese agricultural trainees at Big Bend, and traveled to Japan in the late 1970s to visit his former students, returning to Japan for the first time since his service in the Navy. Curt was an author and playwright, having written a number of novels and plays. He loved opera, theatre and classical music, going to New York twice during his teaching career on National Endowment for the Humanities scholarships to study literature and drama. He was one of the early proponents of Columbia Basin Allied Arts, and served as executive director there for a year while on a sabbatical from teaching. Curt and Patty Jo moved out to Cascade Valley in 1971, building their home in the summers and after school.An unlikely artisan, Curt, along with Patty Jo and his young children, did all the work except for the framing up of the house. He was a loving husband and father, encouraging of exploration, fair with discipline and unlikely to freak out when something (or somebody) went wrong. Sometimes exasperating, often a bit stubborn, he was also able to admit error and to apologize. He set high standards, and generally expected people to always do their best, whatever that might be. A life-long liberal and devout Catholic in the Jesuit tradition, Curt combined a sense of the importance of social justice with a deep spirituality. He was always happy to discuss politics and the issues of the day, spending many a Wednesday at Big Bend reading the New York Times Sunday edition and discussing politics with friends and colleagues. In 2004, Curt was diagnosed with prostate cancer, receiving treatment at UCSF for nearly three months in early 2005 before returning home.Unfortunately, the cancer had already spread, and further treatments succeeded in slowing, but not stopping the progression of the disease. Until recently, he was still able to get around his home and take trips to town. While the cancer eventually spread so that over the last couple of months he was mostly confined to bed, Curt was able to stay home, fully alert and enjoying visits from friends and family. During his final weeks he said over and over how lucky he was for his family. Curt is survived by his brother Pat, his wife Patty Jo; five children, Christopher (Tracy), Stephen, Kathleen (Steve), Brandon(Wendy) and David (Julia); and eight grandchildren; Sarah, Maia, Margot, Cassidy, Patrick, Braydon, Farron, and Finnegan. He is (and will be) sorely missed. Viewing will be from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016 at Kayser's Chapel and from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., Monday, Aug. 22nd at Our Lady of Fatima. Holy Rosary will be prayed at 10:30 a.m., Aug. 22nd followed by Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Fatima. Interment will be in Guarding Angels Cemetery. Please sign the online guestbook at www.kayserschapel.com Arrangements are in care of Kayser's Chapel & Crematory. Thank you to Assured Hospice, Dr. Smith, and Dr. Kubasumi.
Husband, father and teacher Curtis Joseph Austin passed away peacefully at home in Moses Lake on August 16, surrounded by family, after a long battle with cancer. Services will be announced when set. He was born on June 5, 1933 in Missoula,... View Obituary & Service Information
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