The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

July 26, 2013

J. Ben Austin Jr., 88, Lewisburg

The Daily Item

— LEWISBURG — J. Ben Austin Jr. passed away on Thursday, July 25, 2013, at Rhodesmere Personal Care in Lewisburg.

Ben, the eldest of three brothers, was born on Feb. 7, 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio, to John B. Austin and Genevieve (Clark) Austin.  

Ben attended Shaw High School in Cleveland, where he was a member of the football team. During World War II, he served in the Navy. He received bachelor of science and master of science degrees in engineering from Case Institute of Technology.

On Aug. 20, 1949, he married fellow Cleveland resident and former Sunday school playmate Sally DuGar Austin. In 1960, Ben and his family moved to Lewisburg,  where he taught mechanical engineering at Bucknell University for 33 years.

He loved his wife, family, and friends, and was endlessly enthusiastic about meeting new people, trying new things, and traveling to new places — whether as far away as Samoa or as nearby as Concord, Mass. He was a voracious reader with a keen interest in history, and a storyteller with a sense of humor best described as all his own.

An avid dancer who pursued clogging, ballroom, square dance, polka, tango, and many other forms of dance, Ben was also a music lover who studied piano at a young age and played throughout most of his life. He sang in the First Baptist Church Choir and with the Susquehanna Valley Chorale for many years.

Ben is survived by his children, Jim Austin, Mary Austin (Ron Shapiro) and Jenny Donelan (Jed); and four granddaughters, Rachel and Ana Shapiro and Loretta and Doris Donelan.

He was predeceased by his wife, Sally DuGar Austin. and two brothers, Clark and James Austin.

Friends will be received from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Cronrath-Grenoble Funeral Home, South Second and St. Louis streets, Lewisburg. The committal service will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Lewisburg Cemetery followed by a memorial service at 10:30 a.m. at the First Baptist Church, 51 S. Third St., Lewisburg, with his pastor, the Rev. MacKenzie Scott officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the First Baptist Church, 51 S. Third St., Lewisburg, PA 17837 or to the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pennsylvania, 2595 Interstate Drive, Suite 100, Harrisburg, PA 17110 or at

The family is grateful to all of Ben’s many friends, and offers special thanks to his caregivers June and Jared Saxon and Chris Cummings, Karen Zellers, his many friends from dance and the First Baptist Church, his care coordinator Fran Lianso, and the staff at Rhodesmere.

Expressions of sympathy may be shared at