Small Town News


George Austin

Arizona Range News of Willcox, Arizona

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Not too many residents of Willcox have had a street named after them. In May 1989, George Austin became one of those so honored, when El Paso Avenue was changed to Austin Boulevard. Mayor Charles Leighton proclaimed May 6, 1989 as "George Austin Day" in memory of "his unselfish gift of life and health to so many, rich or poor, without regard for compensation." This memorial was suggested by his friend and fellow pharmacist, Ted Teimer. Mr. Teimer wrote, For those, either local (r)r transient, who could not afford needed medication, it was provided for them on a "hold ticket" for whioh George never expected to be paid. George was not a wealthy man. Although these "hold tickets" were thrown out on a periodic basis, there were thousands of dollars still owed to him when he retired."

Teimer went on to write, "Veterinary medicine was among his skills. He studied and knew a great deal about the care and treatment of both large and small animals. He stocked a wide variety of implements and medications for veterinary care, and many ranchers and pet owners depended on him. Further, in my 30-some years of association with George, I have never heard him use a word of foul, uncouth or profane language. Although he endured many incidents of provocation, he had never learned to be vindictive, vengeful or to hate. His appointment to the State Board of Pharmacy by the Governor for two five-year terms was an honor both to him and to our community."

George Austin was born Dec. 22, 1904 in Beatrice, Neb. After moving to Willcox, he was employed by Nicholson's Drug Store. He left during World War II to serve in the Navy. He served as Chief Pharmacist on a mine sweeper which saw much action in the Pacific. Since his ship had no doctor, he was acting physician to the crew of 160 or more men, even to Japanese pilots who had been shot down.

Following the war, George became a partner in the Nicholson-Austin Drug Store. After Marshall Nicholson's death in 1954, George bought his partner's interest from Mrs. Nicholson. George was sole owner from then until 1987, when he sold it to John Carbonara. In 1989, Charles and Mary Leighton bought the store and named it the Austin-Leighton Drug Store.

The Arizona Pharmacy Association honored George with several awards including thertitle of Honorary President. George was a long-time member of the Rotary Club and took pride in being one of the men who organized and built the Vet's Club of Willcox (now the Elks Lodge). He was also a charter member of the local Elks Club. Though George Austin died at the age of 84 on Jan. 20, 1989, we will continue to think of him each time we drive down Austin Boulevard.

Original Publication Date: 2010-04-28