June 8, 1951 - April 1, 2023
Austin M. Fine died on April 1, 2023. Austin was born in Thomasville, NC, the son of Austin M. Fine Sr, and Johnsie Sullivan Fine, and much-loved baby brother to Frances and Brenda. After graduating from Thomasville High School, Austin studied Political Science and Education at Appalachian State University. Even more importantly, it is there that he met Nona Hyatt and convinced her to attend the viewing party for a Carolina basketball game. They have been together ever since, marrying in April of 1974.
Austin began his career at Monroeton Elementary School in Rockingham County, teaching English Language Arts, Math, and developing the first Physical Education program at the school. After transitioning to a career with Energizer Battery, Austin enjoyed 32 years of service, and especially appreciated the friendships he developed with colleagues along the way. The battery world took Austin and his family from North Carolina to Vermont, Singapore, and Missouri before settling into full-time grandparenting in Raleigh, NC.
Though this fastidious man exercised, ate all the right foods, and never missed a doctor’s appointment, he was not able to avoid ALS, an indiscriminate and mean ol’ disease that quietly swept into his body nearly five years ago. He navigated ALS with his typical gentle humor and grace, never asking “why me,” but simply calling it a “bump in the road.” Though his family would have done anything for this not to be his path, we give thanks that, before diagnosis, he was able to retire and travel with his wife, walk his daughters down the aisle, and be present for the birth of his beloved three grandsons.
Left to remember him, and to tell the story of his good, good life are his wife and best friend of 49 years, Nona; his daughters, Dr. Kari Fine Coulson, and the Rev. Laura Fine Ledford; two fantastic sons in law, Dr. Garry Coulson and Rodney Ledford; three grandsons, Edwin Austin Ledford, Henry “Hank” Patterson Ledford, and Finn Brian Coulson; adoring sister, Brenda Giamporcaro; and life-long friends and traveling buddies, Mack and Mary Jane McKinney. They will remember a man who worked incredibly hard to provide for his family, loved Emerald Isle days looking out on the water under his ancient-but-still functioning cabana, who cooked the perfect egg sandwich, duct-taped his shoes because “they still work!”, was the best builder and fixer, showed his love by changing the oil in your car, filling up your tank with gas, or telling you to “be careful, it’s treacherous out there” every time you drove in the snow, who played hours of garage basketball with his grandsons, found a way to their athletic events even when walking was hard, and always, always said “I love you,” when hanging up on the phone.
We are equal measures heartbroken to say goodbye, and grateful that his body has been set free.
To celebrate his life, the family will gather at Austin and Nona’s home on Wednesday, April 5th, from 1-3 pm. If you would like to honor Austin’s life, please share memorial donations with Transitions Life Care (www.transitionslifecare.org), who were a tremendous gift in his final days.