The best man we knew, James (Jim) Theodore Austin, died on Christmas Day at the age of 78. Jim was born Feb. 12, 1944 in Chehalis, Washington to Paul Theodore “Ted” and Retha (Lindholm) Austin. He was a graduate of Oakville High School and attended Centralia College and the University of Washington. Jim left the UW early to join his dad to run the family dairy farm in Oakville, Washington. He took great pride in the farm which has been in the Austin family for 144 years. Jim was a tireless worker and a smart and innovative businessman. Austin Farm became one of the first farms west of the Mississippi to install a robotic milking system. Under Jim’s stewardship, Austin Farm received Washington State environmental awards as well as an Organic Valley award for the best quality milk in the Western Region.
Jim met the love of his life, Janie Chromey, on a blind date that Jim’s brother Mike was supposed to go on. Mike lost his nerve and Jim, true to his nature, did not want Janie left without a date and took Mike’s place. Their connection was instantaneous. Jim and Janie married on Jan. 16, 1965, and at his passing were just shy of celebrating their 58th wedding anniversary. They welcomed their three kids in consecutive years: Kay, Ron and Jim. Jim was an amazing dad, and his grandkids and great-grandkids brought him endless joy.
Jim and Janie enjoyed traveling when they could get away from the farm. They enjoyed several cruises, traveled to Sweden to visit relatives, went on a pilgrimage to Poland and eastern Europe, toured Italy with Ron, took Alyssa and family to Paris, enjoyed many trips to Maui (including celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with all their children and grandchildren), traveled with grandkids Lukas and Annabelle to Disneyland, and went on various other trips. As the saying goes, Jim never met a stranger. He and Janie met several people on these trips that became lifelong friends.
Jim was known for his kindness, generosity, and willingness to always give a helping hand. He was an avid sports fan and especially enjoyed watching the Seahawks, Mariners, and UW Huskies. He was at the Mariners game in 2012 with Janie, son Jim, L'Nayim and Lukas when Felix Hernandez pitched his famous perfect game.
Jim was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church. In past years he was involved in numerous community activities, including running the Oakville 4th of July celebration and raft races back in the 70s/80s, being a member of the Oakville Grange, and being a part of many dairy related organizations including Organic Valley, Darigold, and the Grays Harbor branch of the USDA Farm Services Agency.
Jim is survived by his loving wife Janie; kids Kay Logan (Jim), Ron Austin, and Jim Austin (L’Nayim); grandkids Kelsi Brown (Keith), Alyssa Logan, Lukas Austin and Annabelle Austin; great-grandkids Kaylee Brown and Kasen Brown; siblings Bonnie Miller (Ken), Mike Austin (Sue), and Gary Austin; bonus siblings Karen Fox and David Abbott (Amy); and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and good friends.
A funeral mass will be held Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 11 a.m., with a graveside service at 12 p.m., and a reception following. All will take place at St. Francis Mission, Toledo, Washington.
Consider honoring Jim by making a donation in his name to the Oakville Fire Department, by donating blood to help save lives, and/or by performing a random act of kindness.