The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 18, 2013

Austin Barragree

Published 9-19-13


Enid News and Eagle

ENID, OK — Friends and family will gather to remember Austin Barragree and celebrate his life at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, at First United Methodist Church, 401 W. Randolph in Enid.

Austin was born Dec. 6, 1917, at his parents’ homesteader cabin on the north bank of the Cimarron River, where it flows from Kansas into the Oklahoma Panhandle.

The youngest of Tom and Stella Mae Barragree’s six children, he was preceded in death by all five of his siblings, Murriel, Orville, Dennis, Alice and Dean.

Austin died peacefully at the Norman Veterans Center on Aug. 22, 2013. He was 95.

Austin endured the Great Depression and the heart of the Dust Bowl. He graduated from high school in Meade, Kan., and began college in Fort Hayes, traveling back and forth to school by hitchhiking or jumping freight trains “just for the heck of it.”

Austin later transferred to Northwestern at Alva, where he met and married Betty Halstead, Northwestern’s Ranger Queen.

After graduating from Northwestern, Austin worked at Cessna Aircraft Co. in Wichita, when WWII broke out. He enlisted in the Navy, attended officer candidate school and was on various ships in the South Pacific until the war ended. He was on a ship in Leyte Gulf, near the Philippines, when he learned the war was over and once recounted the celebration saying, “There were fireworks all over the harbor. The sky was completely white, like daylight at night. It was something else!”

Austin and Betty had two children: son, Jack Barragree and wife Marilyn of Oklahoma City, and daughter, Jan Robinson of Enid.

The family lived first in Carmen, where Austin went into business with his father-in-law running the Carmen Livestock Auction. Austin taught school and eventually became superintendent of the Cleo Springs, Waynoka, and Northwest Area Vo-Tech schools in Alva and Fairview. He treasured all of his students. At Cleo Springs, he coached girls basketball, and the girls on his teams held an especially sweet spot in his heart.

Upon his retirement from the vo-tech schools, Austin and Betty moved to Enid to be near their daughter, Jan, and granddaughters Megan and Lindsay. They were also very close to Jack’s daughter, Kristal Gaines, her husband Russell and their two children, Dustin and Ashlee.

Austin and Betty were “Oh, so happily married!” for more than 50 years, when Betty passed away in 1991.

Austin was a member of the Methodist Church at all stops in life. At the First United Methodist Church in Enid, he met Edna Specie in his Sunday school class. One evening, Edna invited him over for pot roast, and a new chapter of Austin’s life began.

Finding a second chance at love and life, Austin and Edna married in 1994. Together, they attended hundreds of local sporting events. When Austin married Edna, he gained a whole new family: Edna’s daughter, Carolyn McKeaigg and husband Ronnie and their children, Kent and Kobie; and daughter JoAnn Bentley and husband Terry and her son, Bobby. The couple had 16 golden years together before Edna passed away in 2010.

Austin’s service in the Navy during WWII entitled him to residence in the Norman Veterans Center, where he lived, was well cared for, and much loved for the last three years of his life.

Throughout his career and retirement, Austin was a great supporter and advocate for public education. A scholarship fund has been established in his name to continue this legacy.

Memorial donations may be made to the Austin Barragree Scholarship Fund c/o Alva/Fairview Northwest Technology Center Foundation, 1801 11th Street, Alva, OK 73717.

Condolences may be made online at ladusauevans .com.

(Submitted by family)