Austen: Harold Gilbert “George”
Oct. 25, 1949 – Dec. 7, 2019
Harold Gilbert Austen was born October 25, 1949, in the Oyen Municipal Hospital, the third child of Harry and Harriet Austen and a brother for Mae and Violet.
Harold lived his entire life in Oyen except for his time at SAIT and his two years working in the Crowsnest Pass. During his public school days he somehow received the nickname “George” and it stuck like glue.
After his time in the Crowsnest Pass he worked for Reg Campbell for several years and then for Alberta Gas Truckline which became Nova and then Transcanada.
George loved to party, hunt, fish, travel and cook. He acquired the travelling bug even before he was married. In 1974, George and Randy Wiechnick and Don Gilham traveled to Japan, Guam (to see Carl and Mae) and then to Hawaii. He also went to Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Disneyland, San Diego, San Francisco, Reno and back to Las Vegas for Pete and Terry Scheurman’s wedding with Randy Wiechnik, Don Gillam, and Ory Skappak.
In the fall of 1974, he met Joan Nunweiler, a girl from Eatonia who was working at the Oyen Hospital. They were married on January 14, 1978.
When George started working for Alberta Gas Truckline they acquired a camper for the truck and eventually upgraded to a Frontier Motorhome. That is when the traveling started in earnest. They toured around British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, and even going to some rodeos. When they retired they upgraded to the Dolphin Motorhome and went on two big holidays – the Maritimes for 10 weeks and the following summer to Alaska for three months. Their final upgrade was a 37 foot 5th wheel to travel to Arizona in the last years.
Each year in November, he would go up North hunting moose and elk for a week. After George retired, he and a large group of men always went fishing the first week of June at Besnard.
In their retirement they became snowbirds, going to Arizona each winter for several months. They had a huge circle of friends there that they would meet up with. They are still in contact with many of them to this day.
George will be lovingly remembered and greatly missed by Joan, his wife of almost 42 years; sisters Mae Mock and Violet (James) Compeau; nephew Patrick (Mary Brown) Compeau; niece Jacquie (David Staples) Compeau; cousins David, Eva Linn Swan and Gerald McKinstry; mother-in-law Elaine Nunweiler; and sister-in-law Janice (Alwyn) Kaye.
George was predeceased by his parents Harry and Harriet Austen, uncle Edward McKinstry; and brother-in-law Carleton Mock.
Funeral Service was held Friday, December 13, at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall in Oyen, Alberta. Officiating clergy were Rev. Helen Reed and Bonnie Burke. A tribute was given by Mae Mock. Special music was provided by the Yake Boys and Dale Huston, who sang “Layla” and “Hallelujah.” Honorary urn bearers were all of George’s friends and family who cared and shared in his life.
Memorial tributes may be directed to the Canadian Cancer Society, #102 – 1865 Dunmore Road SE, Medicine Hat, Alberta, T1A 1Z8; Oyen & District Health Care Foundation, Box 150, Oyen, Alberta, T0J 2J0; or to a charity of the donor’s choice.
Following the funeral service, family and friends were invited to a luncheon hosted by the United Church Ladies in the Legion Hall.
MacLean’s Funeral Home of Oyen in care of arrangements.