Robert DeKalb (“Bob) Austin

Published 10:00 pm Friday, September 2, 2011

Robert DeKalb (“Bob) Austin

Robert DeKalb (“Bob”) Austin died August 31, 2011 in Niceville, Florida. Funeral services will be held Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011 at 2 p.m. from Mt. Hilliard Methodist Church in Bullock County with Rev. John Harden officiating. Burial will follow in the Ramah Church cemetery, Josie, Alabama, with Gray Funeral Home directing.

He was born September 27, 1935 to Bernie Austin and Evelyn Austin (both deceased), in the Enon community in Alabama. He was married for 51 years to Sylvia Anita (née Caylor) Austin. He fathered two sons, Robert Daniel Austin of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, and James Christopher Austin of Portland, Maine.

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After graduating from Brundidge High School, Bob worked for several years at various jobs in Troy and Union Springs, Alabama. He served in the Army in Ft. Polk, Louisiana during the Berlin Crisis, and for five years in the Alabama National Guard. After he married, he attended college at Troy State University (now Troy University). After graduating, he took a job as a claims adjuster in property and casualty insurance for Florida Farm Bureau in Ft. Pierce, Florida, and moved his family there. He continued to work for Farm Bureau in various capacities for the next 15 years or so, reaching the level of District Manager. His wife worked first as a Registered Nurse, and then as an Instructor of Nursing at Indian River Community College in Ft. Pierce.

Bob and Sylvia lived in Ft. Pierce for the next 22 years raising their two children. In Ft. Pierce, Bob was involved in a number of community activities, serving as chairman of the Biracial Committee for the St. Lucie County Schools (helping to facilitate court-mandated school integration), coaching Little League baseball, and serving as President of both the Ft. Pierce Central High School Band Parents Association and the School Advisory Committee. In 1990, Bob and Sylvia moved to Niceville, where Bob worked as a legal adviser on insurance issues.

Bob accomplished much in his life, but he was most proud of his family: Sylvia, his wife, a registered nurse, established the Practical Nursing program at Okaloosa Applied Technology Center in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. Rob, the oldest child, graduated as Salutatorian from Ft. Pierce Central High School, then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Management and Decision Science. He was on the business faculty at Harvard University and is now Dean of the business school at the University of New Brunswick. Rob is married to Laurel (née Mohs) Austin and has three children, Lillian, Evelyn, and Daniel. Chris, Bob’s youngest son, was high school Valedictorian. Chris earned a Ph.D. in Physics and now works as an editor at Science Magazine in Washington, D.C. (though he resides with his family in Portland, Maine). Chris is married to Rachel Narehood Austin and has one child, Jacob.

Bob is predeceased by a brother Frank. He is survived by his wife Sylvia, his two sons, and four grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Peggy Sue Stone of Washington state, and by three brothers: Butch Austin of Pike County, Alabama, Max Austin of Milton, Florida, and Danny Austin of Birmingham, Alabama.

Those who wish to make a charitable donation in lieu of flowers are encouraged by Bob’s family to contribute to Covenant Hospice ( or to the cancer-related charity of their choice.