By Carol Mowdy Bond
The Yukon Chamber of Commerce has awarded its highest honor to a 30-year Yukon Main Street property and business owner.
Judy Austin was named H.B. Frank Citizen of the Year during Friday night’s Yukon Chamber Gala & Awards Banquet at the Palace Event Center, 2310 N. Banner Road. A video presentation about Judy served as the official announcement of her honor.
Judy and her husband, David, owned Yukon Flowers & Gifts, 121 W. Main, for 30 years. They sold the business two years ago, but still own the property and the building. In April, Judy and David will celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary.
Judy can’t say enough about their three sons and daughters-in-law: Andy who is married to Tracie, Brad who is married to Sabrina, and Matt who is married to Brandi. Judy and David also have ten grandchildren. Brad and Matt and their wives attended Friday night. But Andy and Tracie live in Dallas and were unable to attend.
Known for her work with foster children and foster families, Judy explained, “Many years ago, I talked to a family that didn’t have much, and they were foster parents. We got with the Canadian County foster kids’ program and found they didn’t have much for Christmas, and that broke our hearts.
“We are members of Surrey Hills Baptist Church, and our church helped. We bought gifts, based on the foster kids’ wish lists. We made it work and made it happen. Express Barns gave us their barn, and we invited all the family members and had a big carnival. Different places donated food. Our church family donated. Money was donated. There were 500 people there. We did it for right at 17 years. It was a lot of fun. We probably stopped about three years ago.”
There are so many stories Judy Austin said she could tell.
“This is just one,” she said. “One night, David was playing with one of the little boys. David said, ‘You better be good, or I may have to take you home with me!’ The little boy said, ‘Reaaaaallly?’ David was just playing, not realizing what he said and how the little boy would take it.
“We would see them come in with bruises and things. And you just have to love and hug ’em, and not cry.”
Yukon’s Citizen of the Year said she loves people, loves working with people and loves being involved in the Yukon Chamber. She also serves on the board of the Yukon 66 Main Street Association.
“I was Chamber president for two years, so I could make known what Yukon has to offer, and why people should join the Chamber,” she said. “And how we could help grow their businesses and encourage and support them.
“The Chamber community is family. It’s not just the business part of it. When there’s a need, we all pull together and just do it as family. That’s why we do it. I just love Yukon and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Number three of seven children, Judy was born and raised on a big turkey farm – 900 acres at one time – near Springfield, Mo.
“Hard work and the farm,” she said. “Everybody learned to pull together. That’s the way I was raised. You stay until you get it done. I’m from the Show Me State, and we just show up and get it done.”
Of her grandmother, whom she called Nanny, Judy said, “Nanny was raised the same way as me. She lived to be 105 years old. Everyone was always asking her how she lived that long. And Nanny always said, ‘Lotsa hard work and honest living.'”