Beloved theatre professor dies at age 77

Aug 23, 2011

Jim and Marti AustinProfessor Emeritus of Theatre James Lee Austin, 77, died Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011.

Austin joined the Heidelberg faculty in 1964, and was promoted to associate professor of theatre arts in 1984. He served as CTA Department chair from 1970-74. A fixture in Founders Hall and Gundlach Theatre, he directed many productions until his retirement in 2001. Beloved by his students of all ages, he was intimately involved with Tiffin’s Children’s Theatre, which Heidelberg sponsored, for many years. Professionally, he was affiliated with the Ohio Theatre Alliance and the former American Theatre Association. In addition to his broad and vast directing skills, he was also a talented playwright and actor, performing many roles on and off campus. He was widely known for his collection of unique masks and his interest in mythology.

He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and his Master of Arts degree in speech and theatre arts from Columbia University, and completed doctoral study there as well.

Surviving are his wife, Marti; two children, Lauren Austin Smith and J. Jonathan Austin; and five grandchildren.

A memorial service has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, at Trinity United Church of Christ, with Campus Minister Paul Sittason Stark and the Rev. Louis Dorsch officiating. Visitation will follow the service at the church.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the James Lee Austin Memorial Scholarship Fund at Heidelberg.