Austin L. Priest


Austin L. Priest

1918 – 2010

AUGUSTA — Austin L. Priest died peacefully Friday, March 5, at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Augusta.

He was born in Liberty on Jan. 7, 1918, the son of Fred and Frieda Hannan Priest.

He attended local schools and worked on the family farm before entering the U.S. Army in 1941. S/Sgt Austin L. Priest’s activity during World War II: Served with Company K, 103rd Infantry Regiment, 43rd Division. Participated in the battles of Guadalcanal, Northern Solomon Islands, New Guinea and the Philippines. Recipient of the Asiatic-Pacific campaign ribbon with 4 Battle Stars, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Purple Heart for wounds received during the Battle of New Guinea. It was in August 2009 that S/Sgt. Austin L. Priest received his long overdue Purple Heart.

Austin married his high school sweetheart, Marie Catherine Whitaker, once out of the service. Austin worked for the United States Postal Service all his life and upon his retirement he and his wife wintered in Jupiter, Fla., for 23 years. Austin loved the warm weather and spent their summers at their cottage on Cobbossee Lake where he had a great friendship with neighbor Ron Fletcher. Austin shared stories about his fishing, boating, watching the loons and feeding the chipmunks.

Austin, wearing his “straw hat” to keep the sun out of his face, enjoyed planting a garden and raising blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and fresh vegetables. Austin had a passion for cars and always had several in his yard. He and his wife shared a love for ballroom dancing and spent many Saturday evenings in Lincolnville, Cumberland or Union, with his cousin Gloria Wood and her husband. They also danced weekly when they were in Florida. Austin loved hunting, as did his father, and his grandson, Aaron D. Cowan does today. Shooting a deer was great, but Austin truly enjoyed just being outside to hear the birds singing!

Austin was a member at Green Street United Methodist Church in Augusta.

Austin is survived by a son, Donald W. Priest, of Waterville; a daughter, Janice P. Cowan and her husband, David J. Cowan, of Litchfield; granddaughter, Kelly M. Cowan, of Westbrook; grandson, Aaron D. Cowan, of Litchfield; a special sister-in-law, Mildred Priest; and many nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his parents; his wife of nearly 65 years, Marie; brother, Kenneth Priest; and a sister, Emma Collins.

The family is truly grateful for the excellent care, love and kindness Austin received while at the Maine Veterans’ Home.