July 16, 1941 - September 3, 2019
Warner Edwin Magellan Austin, passed away on September 3, 2019 at 78 years of age in Sublimity Oregon surrounded by his loved ones.
Warner was born on July 16, 1941 in Clifton Forge, Virginia to the Reverend Dr. Finis Hugo Austin and Beatrice Mabel Clark Austin. His father was a Military Chaplain, setting an early spiritual foundation for Warner’s life of selflessness and generosity.
Warner graduated as Salutatorian of his high school class in 1959. He went on to serve in the US Army from 1959-1966, first on active duty, then in the Army National Guard, as a guard plus Sentry dog Trainer. He guarded the Nike missile site in Dorseyville, Pennsylvania. After his discharge from the Army he continued his major in Physics at the University of Pittsburgh, and went on to work at Westinghouse Air Brake, North American Rockwell, and Gulf Research.
Warner was blessed when he fathered two lovely daughters, Wanda and Winona, during his first marriage.
During his tenure at Gulf Research he became a founding member and Chairman of the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center. It was then and there that he met the woman who shared his dreams, Debbie, in 1975.
Warner embraced Debbie’s children as his own, treating them all with love and kindness. Then in 1977, Warner and Debbie joyfully welcomed the son born of their love, Warner Pyahdonequah. Together they moved to Debbie’s hometown of Klamath Falls, Oregon where Warner was in absolute awe as he looked at the beauty of the mountains and lakes.
Warner was a phenomenal Dad, grandfather, and great grandfather. He always gave attention and a big smile to everyone who crossed his path. He loved to tell stories and legends to everyone but especially to the children as he would also create rich characters, one of whom was our favorite “Pal”. Warner rarely met a person he didn’t like as he was so good-hearted, genuine, and one of a kind.
Warner had a long and storied career working for the Winema National Forest Service as an archaeology technician, fire-spotter, and fire-fighter. Throughout that period, despite working a very physically demanding job he found time to nurture the local Native American youth interests as he was heavily involved in Indian Education Programs; chairing the parent committee, hosting cultural nights, and setting up community outreach performances at the local schools. It was a true blessing when he secured employment as an Education Technician at Chemawa Indian High School, a vocation he loved so much that he refused to retire. In the 17+ years spent at Chemawa, he deeply touched the lives of the students and staff as he utilized his time and influence to instill a love for cultural and educational knowledge in our Native American youth.
Warner, also given the Ojibwa name Newdinwinini, meaning my big brother the wind, was a men’s traditional dancer, a lead drummer and singer. Warner frequently traveled up and down the West Coast to various pow-wows along with his wife Debbie and their family drum Ahnii' Nijii, which means hello friends in Algonquin. Warner and Debbie were interested in all the Native peoples from this North American continent, which included the cultures of the Mexican tribes and the Alaskan Natives, thus inspiring them to form the Native American Cross Cultural Association which participated in and funded performances, as well as the pow wow they instituted and held at the annual Riverfront Park “World Beat Festival” in Salem Oregon.
Warner is survived by his wife Deborah M. Austin, His sons & daughters along with their spouses or life mates: James Wright and Gaynell Brown, NoKoWhat and Vicki Herrera, Eshoni Yazzie, Stephanie and David Crain Sr., Wanda Austin, Winona and John Mitchell, Jennifer Marquis, Pyahdonequah Austin and Sommer Whiteaker as well as numerous Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren. He is also survived by his Siblings Fernando H. Austin M.D., PB Austin, Rod Austin, Steve Hardin, Joe Hardin, and Mini’imah Garrett, together with numerous Nieces, Nephews, and Cousins.
Warner was preceded in death by His parents Finis and Beatrice Austin; His stepmother Mary Austin, His brother Hugo Austin, and one grandchild Mikey Bettles (Spud).
Memorial services will be held at 11:00am on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at the Chemawa Indian School Stadium. A meal and a chance to share stories of Warner will follow immediately after the memorial in the big gym.