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Bonnie L. Austin

May 25, 2018

Bonnie Lou Austin, 79, of Shepherdstown, passed away Sunday, May 13, 2018, at the Inova Loudoun Hospital-Cornwall Campus in Leesburg, Virginia.

Born July 5, 1938, in Bozeman, Montana, she was the daughter of the late Grant Cline and Eileen (Sinton) Cline Crowley. She was a loving Navy wife, mother, grandmother and homemaker.

She was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, the Shepherdstown Community Club, Potomac Mecklenburg Garden Club and Trinity Thrift Shop.

She is survived by her husband of 59 years, Michael G. Austin; daughters, Tiffany Annette Austin and Eleanor Anderson, of Seattle, Washington, and Natasha Renee Dragovich, of Olympia, Washington; son, Michael Addam “Toby” Austin, of Gerrardstown; grandchildren, Lauren Dragovich and Michael Dragovich; sister, Patricia Higgins, of Los Angeles, California; and brothers, Donald Cline, of Olympia, Washington, and Richard Cline, of Portland, Maine.

Bonnie had tremendous impact on others in her life due to her curious, kind and generous nature. Helping people was at the center of who she was. Her geographical reach spanned both U.S. coasts as well as Europe and the many countries she visited with her husband during his Naval and political careers. Her influence reached across multiple generations as she connected strongly with children, and when they grew up, their children.

While shy by nature, Bonnie’s love for people enabled her to connect with them quickly and resulted in many enduring friendships. She had boundless imagination and unique ability to “spin a story,” seemingly without effort or limitation. The unabridged versions were famous: After returning from one of the many trips across the country, her son commented that “the lawn mower story took her all of Texas to tell.”

She was impervious to language barriers, economic, social, ethnic, cultural and even political differences. Always curious to learn about the history and people wherever she went, she was readily accepted. This became increasingly apparent as she worked to help her husband finish college and continued as a Navy wife through endless, ever-changing assignments. With long deployments (when she was left behind to nurture her family as well of those of younger crew members) and frequent moves (at least 32 times), she learned to adapt quickly. In each case, no matter how long the stay, she fully unpacked, made it home, planted a garden and engaged with the community. Her many dedicated efforts were formally recognized in 2007, when she received the Volunteer of the Year Award for Jefferson County.

In the international community, her nametag often read “Mrs. A,” and for many that became her moniker in Shepherdstown. Grandchildren called her “MeMa,” and she was very proud of her vanity license plate, “Memasbrn.” Other drivers would often stop and ask what it meant, and she explained it was because she lived in a barn.

Bonnie loved animals, carnations, chocolate, Riesling Wine, reading, scrabble and of course, people. But of all those things she loved, being a mother was at the top of her list. It is therefore fitting that she passed away in the arms of her husband and son on Mother’s Day.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 26, 2018, at Trinity Episcopal Church, with the Rev. Dr. G.T. Schramm officiating.

Interment will be private.

Arrangements by Melvin T. Strider Colonial Funeral Home in Charles Town.

Please sign the online guestbook and view her obituary at www.mtstrider.com.

Memorial contributions may be made to Shepherdstown Community Club, P.O. Box 463, Shepherdstown, WV 25443.