Thelma Jean Austin was born July 27, 1941, to Lowell and Emma Grounds. She grew up on Mt. Zion Hill along with her sister, Carolyn, and her parents.
Thelma met the love of her life, Clarence Austin, while in high school at Cave-in-Rock. She was working on the yearbook staff in the basement of the building walked a lanky young man with a great sense of humor and confidence enough to ask her on a date. Several breakups and makeups later, Thelma knew he was the person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Clarence had been diagnosed with a congenital heart defect at birth and as such was never expected to live a full, healthy life. Thelma knew the heartbreak that might be attached in sharing her life with someone in such poor health; but she always said if Clarence only had one more day, she wanted to spend that day with him.
Thelma and Clarence were wed on October 27, 1962. They built a little house together two miles from Elizabethtown. They were able to spend 23 years, 5 months, and 6 days together and share a daughter, Lori, before Clarence went home to be with the Lord on April 2, 1986.
Thelma attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and earned her teaching degree. She taught of 32 years in various schools within the Hardin County School District retiring as librarian for the Hardin County K-12 school in 1994. She then began a second career working for the Hardin County Court house, first in the office of the Treasurer and later in the County Clerk’s office. Thelma loved working there and enjoyed having her finger on the pulse of Hardin County. She finally decided she’d had enough of working and retired for a second time. Thelma was a fixture at Town & Country Restaurant as well as the Golden Circle in later years.
Thelma never remarried after Clarence’s passing. She was a single mom but loved her daughter enough for two parents. She also loved her church family in the same way. She attended Mt. Zion General Baptist Church nearly her whole life. She served in various roles at the church including VBS director for several years and Sunday School teacher until her health no longer allowed her to continue teaching or attending.
Thelma’s health began rapidly declining as the pandemic progressed. Despite living in Hardin County her whole life, she made the difficult decision to move away from her beloved home when her health would no longer allow her to live alone. She moved to Corydon, IN, in April 2022 to be closer to her daughter, Lori and grand-daughters, Olivia and Emma, whom she adored. She moved into Harrison Springs Assisted Living Community and quickly made friends with the staff and residents. She found her new breakfast crew and continued to have her weekly hair appointments and always smiled when everyone told her how beautiful she looked. She even played bingo and was able to attend church services weekly. Thelma quietly rejoined the love of her life, Clarence, on October 12, 2022. She fell asleep and didn’t wake up in this world but in her new heavenly home.
Thelma was survived by her sister, Carolyn; daughter, Lori; granddaughters, Olivia and Emma; niece, Kasi (who only knew her as Nana); and countless other family and friends who all loved her and will miss her deeply.
Proverbs 31: 10-30
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Funeral services for Thelma will be held at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, October 18, 2022, at Mt. Zion General Baptist Church with burial following at Peters Creek Cemetery. The family will receive visitors from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., Monday at Hardin County Funeral Service.
Thelma’s family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support as we say goodbye to her.
To purchase flowers and gifts locally, visit www.RosiclareFlowerBasket.net .