Austins celebrate 50th anniversary
Jerry and Gail Austin of Theodosia celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Jan. 27 with a reception hosted by their daughter, Sabrina Gail Austin, at the Seventh and Mueller Church of Christ in Paragould, Arkansas. They both grew up in the Paragould area – Jerry in town and Gail in the country. They met at the local drive-in and dated five years before getting married on Jan. 28, 1968, in Paragould. Jerry served in the Navy during the Vietnam War; after his service the couple moved to Memphis, where Gail worked for AT&T, and Jerry was a union electrician. Later they moved to Olive Branch, Mississippi, south of Memphis. Around 1994, a co-worker told Jerry about the Ozarks. One week, the Austins drove to Branson to look for property there but couldn’t find anything on the lake. On a whim, they drove home by way of Ozark County and stopped at Don Smiley’s Sierra Ozarks real estate office in Theodosia. “As we were walking in, a fellow was walking out who had just listed 35 acres with lake access,” Gail said. “I want to say we looked at the property before we bought it, but I’m not actually sure.” In the following years they came when they could to clear a building site, and in 2004 they moved here, downsizing “with a vengeance,” Gail says, to live in three rooms inside a 60’ x 80’ shed they built on their land. Gail, who holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, also has a stand-alone office where she bases her occasional consulting work as a mediator. Jerry works as an electrician when he wants to. He also sings in international barbershop musical competitions with the Ambassadors of Harmony group, which won gold medals in 2009 in Anaheim, California, and 2012 in Kansas City. Gail started the Ladies at the Lake Red Hat group. Besides their daughter, Sabrina Austin, who lives in Cordova, Tennessee, they also have a son, Damon Eric Austin and his wife Melinda, who live in Hernando, Mississippi. Gail and Jerry also have three grandchildren.