AUSTIN, Texas – Zuria Farmer Austin, longtime friend of the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin, died February 2. She was the wife and partner of the late Dr. David M. Austin – a pioneer in the field of social work education and faculty member, director of the Center for Social Work Research (1974-79), and acting dean (1991-93) at the School of Social Work.
“It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Zuria F. Austin on February 2nd. With her husband, David Austin, Zuria left an important legacy at our School and in the social work community in general,” said School of Social Work Dean Luis H. Zayas.
Born in Virginia in 1921 and raised in Berea, Kentucky, Mrs. Austin received her master’s degree in social work from Western Reserve University, where she met fellow student David Austin. They married in 1947 and had three children, Clayton Mayo, Judith Ann, and Paul Farmer. Mrs. Austin returned to her career in social work in the early 1970s as a foster care case worker for the Walter Fernald State School in Massachusetts.
The family moved to Austin in 1973, when Dr. Austin joined the faculty at the School of Social Work. Mrs. Austin continued her advocacy for persons with disabilities by serving as a member, and later chair, of the legislative committee of the Austin Association of Retarded Citizens. In 1985, she received the Texas ARC Volunteer of the year award for her participation in the passage of legislation allowing for group homes for persons with mental or physical disabilities to be established in the community.
In 2009, Mrs. Austin established the David M. Austin Endowed Excellence Fund in honor of her husband who passed away the previous year. The endowment, which supports social work students in the graduate program, was recently retitled to include Mrs. Austin’s name, at her sons’ request.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations may be made to the David M. and Zuria F. Austin Endowed Excellence Fund at The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work.
Gifts to the David M. and Zuria F. Austin Endowed Excellence Fund may be made online or mailed to: The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, 1 University Station, D3500, Austin, TX, 78712.