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  Ida Belle Austin: Celebrating A Super-Centenarian

DETROIT - Ida was born in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee as Ida Belle Dawson on December 21, 1912, the second oldest of 14 children, 12 boys and 2 girls. Her parents were the late Rev. Walter Ed and Minnie Dawson. Ida moved to Detroit, MI at the age of seven.

Ida attended and graduated from Cass Technical High School, where she met her late husband the Honorable Richard H. Austin, Michigan's first Black CPA and 1st Black Secretary of State. They both went on to study at Wayne State University. In 1939, they married and together they have one daughter, Hazel.

Ida has dedicated her life to service, and philanthropy. She worked at Children's Hospital in Detroit as a nurse’s assistant, and as the Secretary at the Accounting Firm of her husband and partners Austin, Washington, and Davenport whose office was located in the heart of Black Bottom Community in Detroit. She was the first Black District Director for the Girl Scouts, an accomplished seamstress, and to earn extra income during the depression she would teach piano lessons. Playing the piano is her favorite pastime and she can be found playing the piano at her residence.

Mrs. Austin is a staunch supporter of everything education. She has supported many students at Wayne State University with her scholarship and endowment in the name of Ida B. and Richard H. Austin. She also gives generously to the Beaumont Commons Scholarship program. She loves to keep in contact with the scholarship recipients she supports, and they love to hear her many stories.

Mrs. Austin worked beside her husband tirelessly in his political campaigns. She was a most gracious and helpmate during his successful elections as Michigan’s Secretary of State, in which they served the State of Michigan for 27 years. In 2009, named as the Michigan Democratic Black Caucus Matriarch, a title she loves. A life member of the NAACP, Mrs. Austin spent many hours preparing and assisting with the Detroit Branch NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner and organizing membership drives. In addition to NAACP, she is a member of the Booker T. Washington Business Association, YWCA, Museum of African American History (Detroit and Washington, DC), DIA, DSO, Alzheimer's Association, PBS, and a supporter of the Goodfellows “No Child without Christmas”.

Mrs. Austin is a member of Metropolitan Baptist Church and is truly a phenomenal virtuous woman of God. She states her key to longevity is her faith in God, love of family, service to her community and to daily eat sweet potato, collard greens and drink green tea.


 

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