Born and raised in Iowa, Joseph Riley Austin was a graduate of the Marshalltown school system. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Coe College, Cedar Rapids in 1961. Joe was Student Body President, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. An active alumnus, he served on the Coe College Presidents Advisory Council and was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1976-1985. He was committed to Coe College in many ways and continued to be an active donor.
After obtaining his law degree from Harvard University in 1964, Joe began his career as clerk for Judge William Mathes of US District Court in Los Angeles. He spent a year in Africa as a Law Lecturer at the University of Nigeria. Admitted to the California Bar in 1965, he joined the firm McCutchen, Black, Verleger and Shea. Later, he became a partner at Tuttle and Taylor. Joe served a two-year term as Chair of the State Bar of California Public Protection Committee. He was President of the Los Angeles County Bar Foundation from 1996-1997. Joe retired from McCutchen, Doyle, Brown and Enersen.
Mr. Austin, a resident of the greater Los Angeles area for over 40 years, had a life-long passion and interest in art. Joe was a Charter Founder of MOCA. He was named to the Mayor's Task Force-Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in 1987; a Director of the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibition (LACE) 1984-1987; and a Trustee at Brockman Gallery Productions. In 1992 he became a Commissioner on the Board of Cultural Affairs. An avid collector of contemporary art, Joe has donated some of his extensive collection to various museums.
Mr. Austin was an active volunteer and supporter of the Jenesse Center, a Domestic Violence Intervention Program, from 1993-2003. He was a member of the Board of Directors, also serving terms as Secretary and Treasurer. He is remembered there for his assistance as a mentor to the Executive Director.
Joe is survived by his sister, Anna Austin Kepcke, brother David Austin and his sister-in-law, Lisa Halperin. Also surviving are his nieces and nephews Gabriel and Molly Austin; Kyle and Todd Kepcke; Karlon Kepcke and Max Rossmassler. His family join his many friends and colleagues in honoring Joe's remarkable energy, intelligence and far-reaching contributions.
In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to Joe's alma mater, Coe College, Attn: Development Office, 1220 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 52402.
The family is planning a celebration of life Memorial Day weekend. Final plans will be announced at a later date.