Remembering Maureen Austin By Rebeca Jefferis Williamson

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Former long-time Alpine resi­dent and a one time editor of The Alpine Sun, Maureen Austin, passed away May 5, 2018 from cancer. Austin, who had relo­cated with her husband, Wal­lace, to La Quinta, California three years ago, was with her husband, in their home, when she died. She was 68.

Former long-time Alpine resi­dent and a one time editor of The Alpine Sun, Maureen Austin, passed away May 5, 2018 from cancer. Austin, who had relo­cated with her husband, Wal­lace, to La Quinta, California three years ago, was with her husband, in their home, when she died. She was 68.

“Her smile was as big as the County. She’d walk into a room and the atmosphere would change,” said friend Meredith French. “A bigger than life per­son,” she added. French met Austin at the rededication of Zoro Garden in Balboa Park. Ac­cording to French, Austin raised 1,000 butterflies to be released during the opening ceremony. “The kids got to open all these boxes with butterflies,” she added. Zoro Garden is now a but­terfly garden.

“Her greatest accomplish­ment was her family. She, with the help of her husband, raised two decent, honest, caring chil­dren. That is what she was most proud of, that is what brought her the most joy and satisfac­tion,” said Wallace Austin, who read from her celebration of life program. Her celebration of life was held June 3 in Manhattan Beach.

“She was cremated, and her ashes were put in a biodegrad­able urn and floated out to sea,” said Wallace, “People were able to scatter butterflies off the pier.” The butterflies were bio­degradable.

Butterflies were a part of her life and passion as well as establishing Alpine as the first community wildlife habitat in 1997-98. She was also a master gardener.

At one point, Maureen ap­proached the National Wildlife Federation with the idea of a community of wildlife habitat yards. Ultimately that culmi­nated with the NWF presenting an award to her, in the field of education, at their national con­vention in Houston.

“We used to own the Chirp Habitat Hut for about ten years,” said Wallace. The Chirp Habi­tat Hut was in the JK Corral.  “The kids got to open all these boxes with butterflies,” she added. Zoro Garden is now a but­terfly garden.

“Her greatest accomplish­ment was her family. She, with the help of her husband, raised two decent, honest, caring chil­dren. That is what she was most proud of, that is what brought her the most joy and satisfac­tion,” said Wallace Austin, who read from her celebration of life program. Her celebration of life was held June 3 in Manhattan Beach.

“She was cremated, and her ashes were put in a biodegrad­able urn and floated out to sea,” said Wallace, “People were able to scatter butterflies off the pier.” The butterflies were bio­degradable.

Butterflies were a part of her life and passion as well as establishing Alpine as the first community wildlife habitat in 1997-98. She was also a master gardener.

At one point, Maureen ap­proached the National Wildlife Federation with the idea of a community of wildlife habitat yards. Ultimately that culmi­nated with the NWF presenting an award to her, in the field of education, at their national con­vention in Houston.

“We used to own the Chirp Habitat Hut for about ten years,” said Wallace. The Chirp Habi­tat Hut was in the JK Corral.

The Center to Help Instill Respect and Preservation, or CHIRP, a non-profit, was started by Maureen. Over 200 person­al gardens, in Alpine, received backyard habitat certifications. “She was the force behind those certifications,” said her daugh­ter, Jordan Austin.

Schools and businesses also planted wildlife gardens.

“We met at a church in San Diego, Calvary Chapel on 30th,” Austin said, “We dated about a year. I was in the military and when I came back we got mar­ried.” They married in Descan­so, on the top of a hill, on Labor Day 1979.

Maureen was born in Wauke­gan, Illinois. Her family moved to California when her mother remarried. She graduated from Kearny High School per Jordan.

‘She was my best friend. She wanted everyone she met to know the love of Jesus,” said Jor­dan.

“She started in the early ‘80’s at the Alpine Sun,” noted Wal­lace, “She became editor for about two years. She was a self-taught writer.”

Wallace Austin relayed that one of her stories for the Alpine Sun was on Anatolian Shepherd dogs. Robert Ballard, of Alpine, had first imported a pair of the dogs in 1968. After that “She got really excited about the Anatolian Shepherds from Tur­key,” said Wallace. Ballard estab­lished the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Club of America.

They lived in Alpine for 35 years. During that time, she was not only responsible for es­tablishing the community as a wildlife habitat but helped or­ganize and develop the Sage & Songbirds Festival of Gardens & Garden Tours. Additionally, she organized the beautifica­tion on Alpine’s boulevard and a fundraiser, Gardens on the Bou­levard.

“She didn’t beat her own breast. She never used past glories to get what she needed,” said French, “She was a very fo­cused individual.”

Wallace Austin requested in lieu of flowers to donate to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Net­work in her memory.

Wallace also mentioned that butterflies were released in Al­pine the day she passed. The Monarch Mania Butterfly Re­lease was done on May 5th in coordination with the “Water­wise & Butterflies” Plant Sale, Festival, and Butterfly Release.

“My dad said she was leading them home,” said daughter, Jor­dan.

Remembering Maureen Austin By Rebeca Jefferis Williamson

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