Willeen Smith Austin, 89, passed away peacefully at home on October 3, 2015.
Willeen was born on January 2, 1926 in Brookshire, Texas to Harris Seymour and Winnie Donald Smith. Grandfather, William Oliver Smith, was a pioneer moving his family to the Big Bend in 1901 to ranch. Her father Harris, was one of the owners of the Buena Suerte Quicksilver mine near Lajitas, Texas. Willeen's grandmother, Adecia Ann Walker, was the first kindergarten teacher in the Alpine School District.
Willeen graduated from Alpine High School in 1942 and attended Sul Ross Normal College. She moved to California and worked for Goff Industries, then Hunt Wesson Food which later became Conagra, inc. where she retired and moved back home to Alpine in 1992.
Willeen became actively involved in the community volunteering at the Museum of the Big Bend, Meals on Wheels, and active in her church activities of the Redeemer Lutheran Church. She always wore a smile and never met a stranger she did not like. The highlight of her life was the many good friends she made through the years. She was so very thankful to the community for coming to her and her nephew, Rusty's aide when their home burned last year, expressing heartfelt thanks to the outpouring of donations made for their new start in life. It was unfortunate that she passed away on the day she was to move into her new home.
Willeen was preceded in death by her husband, Robert James Austin; father, Harris Seymour Smith; mother, Winnie Donald Smith; sisters, Winabeth Smith Hill, Celia Ann Smith Hill and son, Christian Seymour Ilten.
She is survived by sons, David Michael Austin of Pacific Grove, CA; James Bruce Ilten (Carol) of Ely, AZ; grandchildren: Stephen (Eve) Ilten, Scott Ilten, Sam Ilten (Kathryn); of Colorado Springs, CO; Shaun Ilten of Long Beach, CA; Brian Ilten (Suz) of Whittier, CA; and Kathryn Ilten (Jerry) of Hacienda Heights, CA; 13 great-grandchildren; nieces, Robbie Burns (Dale) of Alpine, TX; Roxie Klinksiek (Paul) of San Antonio, TX; Billie Mora (Larry) of Las Cruces, NM; Bettie Potter (David) of Gallup, NM and nephew James "Rusty" Hill of Alpine, TX; and numerous grandnieces and nephews.
Services will be held at Redeemer Lutheran Church on Saturday, October 10, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. with graveside services to follow. Memorials may be made to Redeemer Lutheran Church 1003 W. Holland Avenue, Alpine, TX 79830; Museum of the Big Bend, P.O. Box C101, Alpine, TX 79832 or Meals on Wheels, 205 E. Sul Ross Avenue, Alpine, TX 79830.
Alpine Memorial Funeral Home was entrusted with her services.