The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 10, 2010

Gov. Henry honors Maxine Austin

By Kevin Hassler, Associate Editor
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — Enid resident Maxine Austin was honored Wednesday by Gov. Brad Henry at the 35th annual Governor’s Arts Awards.

She received a Community Service Award, which recognizes individuals for significant contributions to the arts in the areas of leadership and volunteerism.

“Maxine has been so supportive of all the arts in Enid for many years,” said Julie Baird, executive director of Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse and who wrote Austin’s nomination on behalf of Enid Arts Council. “She is an advocate for the quality of life in our community.”

 Sponsored by Oklahoma Arts Council, 15 individuals and two organizations were honored with Governor’s Arts Awards for their contributions to the arts in their communities and the state. The ceremony was in the fourth-floor rotunda of the state Capitol.

Austin, who just turned 100, continues her decades-long legacy of dedication to the arts in Oklahoma. She is an active member of Enid Writers Club, Enid Arts Council, Don Blanding Poetry Society of Enid and Poetry Society of Oklahoma. She is a supporter of Main Street Enid, Enid Symphony Orchestra, Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse, Gaslight Theatre and the Tri-State Music Festival.

Born in Marshall, she has been a resident of Enid since age 7. With parents who stressed arts education, Austin excelled in speech, piano, dance and voice lessons. She earned her A.B. degree at the University of Oklahoma before completing writing courses at Phillips University and Dartmouth University, and authoring a book of poetry and a book of short stories. She received the Oklahoma Writers Association PEGASUS Award in 1973 and the Friend of Leonardo’s award in 2008.

Most recently, Austin served as spokeswoman for the Enid Gives campaign to raise funds for several arts organizations in Enid, including Enid Symphony Orchestra, Gaslight Theatre, Main Street Enid, Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse and PEGASYS, Enid’s public-access television station. Austin credits her philanthropy to her parents, who taught her the importance of being engaged in her community.

“She just loves the arts and wants to support them,” Baird said. “She told me on the way down here she didn’t deserve this award. That’s how humble she is.”

Oklahoma Arts Council is a state agency whose mission is to improve lives through the arts by promoting and sustaining the development of a thriving arts environment in the state.