LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Ella Mae Austin, a beloved community leader, former minority representative for the Deep East Texas Council of Governments, and retired teacher, died Saturday at the age of 93. Austin worked with the Rev. Bettie Kennedy.
"She was probably one of the most unique people I have ever met in my life," said Jim McReynolds, a former state representative. "She probably did as much for North Lufkin as anyone I know. "
Royce Garrett, one of Austin's longtime friends, said she had been involved in politics in Angelina County for the past 50 years.
Austin worked as a teacher until she retired, and worked for McReynolds during his time as a state representative. Garrett said she also worked for U.S. Rep.
Charlie Wilson and served as an election precinct captain for at least 40 years.
"She was one of the best friends I ever had," McReynolds said. "She took me under her wing when I ran in 1996, and then went to work for me in Lufkin."
She had been a member of Lufkin's Abundant Life Church for the past 25 years, Garrett said.
"She was very active in her church," McReynolds said.
McReynolds said any time one of her neighbors got sick, Austin would give them a call on the phone or take the person a bowl of her soup.
"She wasn't afraid to work her tail off for what she believed in," McReynolds said.
Austin resigned from her position as a minority representative for DETCOG in 2012. During a special presentation in recognition for her lifetime of service in the community, she received a letter and resolution from President Barack Obama, along with a presidential pin.
The presentation ended with a standing ovation from the crowd.