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Ada Austin

Tue, Nov 6th, 2012
Posted in Harmony Obituaries

Ada Austin of Harmony, was born in Cresco, IA on December 7, 1938 and passed 4 November, 2012. Survived by the love of her life, her husband James, sons Scott Austin, (Donna), Mike Austin, (Denise), daughters, Tori Kenney (Brian) and Konya Bloomquist, (Joseph); her beloved grandchildren, Michelle Austin-Willard, (Jason), Connie Austin (fiancé Nick Clark), Jarod Austin, Janai Austin (fiancé Justin Buchanan), Brianna Kenney, Jordan Bloomquist, Finnegan Kenney and Aidan Bloomquist. Danette Kimball, Dustin (Lisa) Kimball, “DJ” Smith; and five great grandchildren, Genevieve, Abbie, Khloe, Jacob and Avery.

Ada was the eldest daughter of Connie and Ruth (Hahn) Turnmire. Ada also leaves behind a successful business and a honey-do list that could make the entire Armed Forces weep.

Ada was predeceased by her parents, sister Alvera; step-brothers Royal, Ronald and Curt Heim; Mother-in-law Allene (Terbeest) and Father-in-law Axel Bendickson; nephews BillyJoe Erickson and Charlie Foster; grandson Mathew Kenney, also parted before her were myriad family pets, some favorite pasture lovelies (goats) and an Arabian horse named Tarquin. What these critters lacked in intellect they made up with genuine adoration and devotion.

Near the end of her life, Ada had brain surgery for a glioblastoma tumor, a very aggressive cancer. When Ada twisted her doctor’s arm for a guess of approximately how much time she’d get if she took treatments he replied, “a few months.” She touched his hand and blustered “What the hell!” and looked to the family to support her decision not to take any treatments. As if she thought we would do anything else.

In August, Ada and Jim celebrated 50 years together as husband and wife; a true team. Ada would say that this was their greatest accomplishment.

Bedside vigil was fueled by lively conversation, and very little television. An occasional Viking football game, much to her chagrin, and her faithful k-9 companion “Chester T.Yorkshire”.

To say the least, Ada was a challenging and exciting woman. Throughout her life she tried to make “no woman has held that job before” an antiquated phrase. She enjoyed breaking gender barriers in her jobs and didn’t mind doing traditional work as well; (not in any particular order) Deputy Sherriff and Dispatch, a novice accordion player, waitress, bartender, ambulance (EMT) crew, semi-truck driver, pub & grill owner, office/home cleaner.

(FYI: she taught us more than any boot camp training could on how to “square a place away.” If you didn’t know, Ada had some powerful lungs she used for instruction, leaving her children un-phased by any drill instructors’ “encouragement” throughout their boot camp stint.) Harmony School swimming and sports bus driver, wallpaper hanger-upper & she painted walls. She was a respite care provider, nursing assistant, and chauffer. Ada loved and raised Arabian show horses, Shar-Pei & Great Pyrenees dogs.

Finally she truly found her niche raising Angora goats, Babydoll sheep, Silky and Fainting goats and helping to breed the Navajo Churro sheep back from near extinction.

As owner’s of Austin’s Mohair and Gifts, tourism in Bluff Country of Minnesota and around the world soon knew who the Old Goat Woman in purple was and where to buy those world famous Mohair socks. When asked how she felt about this being her last year as the “Old Goat Woman” she would get teary eyed and say “It’s been fun.” Thank you to all of her customers, crafters “artists”, and those in the Tour Guide business for making it happen. You may notice that the farm is no longer the color purple; rather, earth tones now replace the vibrant hue. Something Ada was content to see completed the last week before her passing.

Ada also found time to reach out to others in the trying times of their lives. She instinctively knew what each needed. Whether it was to give them a lift up, make them know she felt that they mattered, put them at ease, give them a job, or just to “cuff ‘em”, a classic Turnmire gesture. Whatever it took to get them back up and moving on with their lives.

Lessons Ada enjoyed teaching were “family are everything so stick together; get an education because they can’t take that away; life is short and unpredictable, embrace it, shake the world up and be the one to shock rather than be shocked.”

A disappointment was being unable, due to health, to travel in the RV purchased to roam the country with Jim. Perhaps without meaning she also taught us not to put off ‘til tomorrow what we should do today.

The family of Ada and Jim would like to take this time to thank all of the friends and extended family around the world for praying for her, for the cards and food, gifts and well wishes and countless hours spent near her. Her world was richer for having you in it. Thank you all for the Anniversary cards that you sent in celebration of their time together. Ada and Jim had Anniversary cards and get-well cards coming in at the same time. Both lifted spirits and brought a smile or tears from the sentiments shared by all of you.

Her last act of citizenship was voting for our next President and, her last act of humanity was to leave her body to science. Cancers have taken many of the people Ada loved; not just her own life so, Ada donated her body to the University of Minnesota. She sincerely hoped that their research would lead to a cure for glioblastoma, helping the next generation.

The family would also like to thank Mayo Hospice and their dedication to making Ada’s life as comfortable as possible. You were a Godsend to Ada and her family, and all others you are assisting.

A celebration of Ada’s life will be held later in the fall of 2013 at the University of Minnesota, date and time to be announced.


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5:13:27, Nov 6th 2012

Cherrie Brink says:
Ada, you were firm yet fair. I admired your confident, serene attitude. You wouldn't take gruff from any one and yet you were warm and welcoming. You were a unique combination of personality traits. You and Jim raised a fine family. God Bless you.


9:13:53, Nov 13th 2012

willard says:
I love you Ada...


8:10:50, Jul 21st 2013

Jennifer says:
I visited many years ago just saw this article. It makes me sad and I know she will be missed. I hope her work can continue!


7:55:33, Dec 3rd 2013

quail says:
I visited Austin's Goat Farm about 8 years ago when I was a patient at the nearby Mayo Clinic. This was truly one of the most magical experiences of my life! Ada Austin sure seemed like one awesome lady. She showed us around, told us about the operation, and we walked away with several large bags of her products and a fun memory. Every time I wear my awesome mohair socks I think about what a great tour that was (I got to hold a baby goat!). Such a great memory, and absolutely the highlight of my time at the Mayo Clinic. I mean, it was an absolute respite to have that experience when I was sick and miserable. Ada Austin, in the very short time I met her many years ago, impressed me as a one-of-a-kind, dynamic, genuine person. If she made such a big imprint on a random customer like me, I can only imagine how her life touched her family and friends. I came across this obituary while looking to get more socks! And I am so sorry to hear of her passing. What a cool lady.


5:13:17, Dec 13th 2013

konya says:
Thank you so much for all the kind comments about mom. We really do appreciate it. I have been so fortunate to get to know more of moms friends and customers through the socks. I have had so many people as me "Do you have time for a story?" Always something interesting and fun comes from that sentence. Keep em coming!
You can still get her socks, just call 618-954-9483.
Konya Austin