AUBURN — James Robert Austin, “Bob” of Readfield, died Oct. 24, at age 78.

Bob was the son of Harold and Emma Austin. He was born on Aug. 23, 1936, in Burlington, Vt. Bob grew up and lived in the Burlington area until 1970, when he moved with his family to Maine, where he eventually settled in Readfield.

Bob will be remembered for his love of skiing, sailing and antique boats. Above all, Bob loved sharing these things with his family, friends and community.

Bob had a long history of service with the National Ski Patrol, first at Mt. Mansfield (Stowe) in Vermont, and then at Saddleback in Rangeley. In 2000, the Ski Patrol recognized him for 45 years of service.

In the early 1980s Bob, along with fellow ski enthusiast, Bob McKee of Wayne, began coaching the Maranacook High School Ski Team. For more than a decade they took busloads (with Bob Austin driving the bus) of young skiers to Saddleback every weekend, building a team of ski racers who won two state championships during that time.

Bob developed a reputation for his generous and inclusive coaching style

and was known for his willingness and ability to turn nonskiers into ski racers.

On days the bus was not going to Saddleback, Bob would pack his gigantic blue station wagon with kids from the community who wanted to get in another day of skiing.

Bob was never one to skip a day skiing because of bad weather, and many will remember his signature growl of “Bah,” whenever even the strongest concerns were made about skiing or travel conditions in a blizzard, ice storm, or rain.

In the summer, Bob and his wife, Mary would regularly be found sailing their sloop, Altlandia, along the Maine coast, especially in Penobscot Bay. Again, not to be deterred by adverse weather even with rain or fog in the forecast, Bob and Mary would not skip a sailing trip. They would set out every Saturday morning for at least a four day cruise, exploring new places in good weather, or hunkering down on their favorite anchorage in Perry’s Creek off Vinylhaven Island when the weather was bad. Family members and friends were often along as guests.

Bob is survived by his wife, Mary of Readfield; sister, Ellen of Warren, Pa.; twin brothers, Peter of South Burlington, Vt., and Paul of Farrisburg, Vt.; daughter, Diedre of Bay City, Wis.; son, Eric and his wife, Susan, of Augusta; son, Michael and his wife, Patricia, of Poland; and daughter, Gwendolyn and her husband, Charles, of San Francisco, Calif.

Memories, condolences, photos and videos may be shared with the family on the obituary page of the website at

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