Gene Thomas Austin, 65, most recently of Taos, Missouri, but truly a man of the world, went home to Jesus with his loved ones by his side on May 23, 2023.
Born May 14, 1958 in Moberly, Missouri, to the late Robert Lewis Austin and Janice (Huntsman) Austin, of Cairo, Missouri, Gene grew up on the family farm learning, working, traveling and playing with his parents and three siblings, Kent, Elaine, and Brad.
Gene was a standout student and serviceable athlete at Northeast R-IV in Cairo. He lettered in baseball, basketball, and track for the Bearcats while also being a member of the National Honor Society and playing percussion in the school band. Two moments rang loudest in Gene's tales of his adolescence. As a senior, he intentionally did poorly on his final exams in order to not be the Valedictorian. Why, you may rightly ask. Simply because he did not want to give a speech at graduation which is comical when you consider his eventual career. Most importantly, though, Gene’s school days lead him to meet the love of his life, Vickie Sue (Moore). They first crossed paths as injured elementary students, which turned to dating in middle school, and marriage on July, 3 1977, just months after Vickie graduated.
Upon his graduation, Gene enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he served 9 years as a Machinist’s Mate Nuclear stationed on board the USS Lafayette (SSBN-616) and at Trident Refit Facility Bangor. He never spoke much about his naval career due to the Top Secret nature of submarines, but he did enjoy sharing the details of his trek across the Arctic Circle which earned him his “bluenose” and the chance to eat a greased cherry out of a obese man’s belly button. While in the Navy, Gene learned and accomplished much (in addition to his “bluenose”). After having lived in one home until he was 18, Gene moved at minimum 18 times over the next 40 years thanks en large part to his USN experience. He was also able to complete his Bachelor’s degree through SIU Carbondale thanks to Navy education programs and later, after being honorably discharged from his service, Gene earned his Master of Divinity at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City.
While working on his MDiv, Gene pastored at First Baptist Church, Winigan, Missouri. He served there for seven years during which he gave of his free time in many ways including coaching Show Me Games basketball and working with the FCA at Green City R-1 High School. Following FBC Winigan, Gene spent three years at Big Lake Baptist Church, Craig, Missouri. In June of 2000, Gene became the campus minister for the Truman State University Baptist Student Union in Kirksville, Missouri. That began his employment with the Missouri Baptist Convention, which continued until his most recent role as the Director of Collegiate Ministry. Although Gene found college ministry later in his career, it quickly became his passion. Working with campus ministers and their staff, college students, and training leaders was dear to him.
Above all, Gene loved spending time with his family. He was especially fond of traveling or taking in a St. Louis Cardinals game. While traveling he would often look for an opportunity to get on the open water and sail. It was a passion he picked up early in his Navy career while stationed on the Eastern Seaboard. Sailing allowed Gene to take in the beauty of God’s creation and haunt his children’s dreams (ask Brian) which brought him much joy. To really know Gene was to understand how passionate he was about his Pittsburgh Steelers. He fell in love with the Steel Curtain defense in high school and his continued fandom was a testament to the loyalty and steadfastness those that knew him best truly loved about him.
Gene is survived by his wife, Vickie (Moore) Austin of Taos, son Brian Austin and his son Kendrick of Columbia, daughter Kimberly (Austin) Mannebach her husband Brent and their sons David and Josiah of Columbia, son Drew Austin, daughter Kenya Austin, sons Hunter Austin, Benjamin Austin and Treyton Austin, all of Taos, mother Janice (Huntsman) Austin of Cairo, brother Kent Austin and wife Lori of Longmont, Colorado, sister Elaine (Austin) Jarvis and husband Mark of Columbia, brother Brad Austin and wife Rachelle of Lake St. Louis, 5 nephews, 4 nieces, 3 aunts and uncles and so many cousins.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations be given to the Endowment for Collegiate Ministry at the Missouri Baptist Foundation.
Words of comfort were shared with the family at a visitation that was held in the Cater Funeral Home. Funeral services honoring Gene’s life and Full Military Honors were held at the Cater Funeral Home Chapel. Private committal prayer and interment took place at the Missouri State Veterans Cemetery.