Gladys M. Austin was called home Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, in the comfort of her home, 17 days shy of her 85th birthday. Her sunrise was Jan. 20, 1928, in Texas to parents, Ida and Jessie Austin.
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The family moved to Los Angeles where Gladys grew up and completed her education in nursing. She was employed at the General Hospital of Los Angeles. She eventually accepted a nursing position at Providence Hospital in Anchorage, and drove up the Alaska Highway in 1953, with three of her nursing friends.
She stayed at Providence Hospital until the 1964 earthquake, at which time she relocated to Fairbanks. Gladys worked a short time as a beautician in the Fairbanks community, but became a member of the Laborer's Union and worked at the NASA Tracking Station, where she stayed for 15 years and retired in 1981.
Gladys epitomized the spirit of the Golden Heart City of Fairbanks with her generous donation of time and service to her community. She was a tireless worker who labored long and gave unselfishly in a spirit of Christian love so the Fairbanks community might truly be a better place to live.
Her volunteer service included serving as a member of the Fairbanks Council on Aging, a board member and past officer of the Southside Community Center (currently the JP Jones community Development Center), member and past president of the Boondox Lioness Club, member and past Matron of Acacia Chapter No. 5 of the Order of Eastern Stars, life member of the NAACP, life member of VFW, member of the Minority Contractors Association and member of the Fairbanks Black Caucus.
She was honored as Pioneer of the month by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly in December 1992.
Gladys was a child of God and dedicated her life to Christ. Her church home was Corinthian Baptist Church of Fairbanks Inc. where she served on the Board of Trustees as a member and past president, member of the choir, Women's Mission, and Usher Board.
Most notably she became the "construction manager" in charge of the construction of the new church building. Gladys loved to garden and took pride in making sure the interior and outside grounds of Corinthian always had an array of fresh flowers.
Gladys leaves behind a legacy of helping those less fortunate. She organized the "Community Helping Hands," who, along with donations from the business community, sponsored an annual Thanksgiving Dinner for the homeless in the community. She was honored at the 2012 Thanksgiving Dinner in which they named the event after her.
Gladys leaves to cherish her memory, her longtime companion, Charles Locket; and son, Wash Hawkins of Houston, Texas; along with five grandchildren; and 10 great-grand children.
She will forever remain in the hearts of those she touched in the community at large, her church family of Corinthian Baptist Church of Fairbanks Inc., and her Sisters in the Order of the Eastern Stars.
Viewing at the Chapel will be held from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, and at noon Thursday, before the service.
Services will be held at
1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, at the Chapel of the Chimes.
A repast will be held at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, following the service at the JP Jones Community Development Center, 2400 Rickert Street.
Arrangements were entrusted to Chapel of Chimes Funeral Home.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Jan. 8, 2013