Carrie Mae Stell Austin
Published: February 21, 2013
Carrie Mae Stell Austin, born April 18th, 1930, died February 19th 2013.
She is survived by her children, Ginger Norris and Gloria Gladden (Royce), all of Monticello, Hugh Austin (Wrenetta) of Conway, David Austin (Debbie) of Little Rock, grandchildren, Kristy Hales (Mike) of Wasilla, Alaska, Andy Norris (Donna) and John and Drew (Lauren) Gladden all of Monticello, Stephanie Witherspoon (Chris) of Benton, Ashley Braswell (Jason) and Lauren Erion (Matt) all of Conway, great-grandchildren Abby, Lily, Keith, Brayden, Valeri, Ava Claire, BJ and Lane', many nieces and nephews. Carrie is predeceased by her husband, Rev. Houston E. Austin, parents Johnnie Mae Smith and David Eugene Stell, one grandson, Jason Austin, one brother, John D. Stell, sisters: Francis Kelly, Jean Cahill, Celeste Fairweather, and Betty Donaldson, her beloved son in law Keith Norris.
An honor graduate of Hamburg High School, she attended ASU, UCA and graduated summa cum laude from UA Monticello. Carrie's life was a reflection of her very diverse interests. She was a retired high school English teacher, Business Woman, an avid reader, family historian, Minister's wife, a patriot and a Yellow Dog Democrat! Her career was spent in public schools in Tillar, Star City, Bearden, England and Dermott, Ark. Referred to as "Aunt Bea" by her students (behind her back), she was a tireless supporter of education and students both young and old. She continued graduate work and other classes of interest most of her life. She was in her 50's when she convinced a friend to share a dorm room for the summer term to study computers. A dedicated reader of the Arkansas Gazette, she never embraced the merger with the Democrat, but read it cover to cover. Born and Reared in her beloved Promise Land community in Ashley County, she traced the family ancestry from 16th century England to the founders of the community she always called home. Her story telling, dry wit and verbose e-mails are a cherished part of family lore. Her love for her students extended beyond teaching literature, grammar, and journalism. She invited many adults to her kitchen table and taught them to read and write. Many things could be said of her professionally, but one of her greatest honors was being asked by a committee of African American students in the mid 70's to deliver Rev. King's "I have a dream" speech at a black history assembly at England High School. She was both humbled and honored, and delivered that speech proudly and respectfully. She truly judged people by the content of their character rather than race, economic or social status. Carrie was traditional, yet progressive. Embracing her role as a Southern Baptist minister's wife, with poise and graciousness, she could respectfully challenge others to examine different views and opinions. Unwavering in her Christian faith, she knew that the spiritual life on earth is a journey and only now has she achieved perfection. She proudly wore the label of Christian and Baptist but accepted and respected the diversity of Christian doctrine represented in the family. A constant, fearless ally of her children and grandchildren, her love was constant, a foundation for their successes and comfort in their failures. Carrie was keenly aware of her gifts and shared them freely with others until her brilliant mind was ravaged by Alzheimers Disease.
A celebration of her life and faith will be a graveside service at 3 p.m. Thursday at Union Ridge Cemetery. Arrangements are by Stephenson-Dearman Funeral Home. As the former owner of a florist, Carrie would welcome floral tributes. Memorials in her honor to the donor's favorite charity. Online guestbook www.stephensondearman.com.