Obituary for Alfred S. Austin Alfred S. Austin, 85, passed away peacefully at his home on Thursday, May 22, ending a life of great accomplishment in Tampa. Known as “The Pioneer of Westshore” for being one of the first to develop the Westshore Business District, Al was deeply committed to many causes in his community and was a tenacious leader who made a significant impact in the Tampa Bay region. He was born in Springfield, MA on January 18, 1929, to parents Robert S. and Rose Roberts Austin. They moved to St. Petersburg in the early 1940s where his father had purchased the Golden Egg Farm. The strong work...
Obituary for Alfred S. Austin
Alfred S. Austin, 85, passed away peacefully at his home on Thursday, May 22, ending a life of great accomplishment in Tampa. Known as “The Pioneer of Westshore” for being one of the first to develop the Westshore Business District, Al was deeply committed to many causes in his community and was a tenacious leader who made a significant impact in the Tampa Bay region.
He was born in Springfield, MA on January 18, 1929, to parents Robert S. and Rose Roberts Austin. They moved to St. Petersburg in the early 1940s where his father had purchased the Golden Egg Farm. The strong work ethic that was instilled in Al as a teenager, by helping his father on the farm, continued throughout the rest of his life.
Al was pre-deceased by his parents, as well as his sister Virginia Austin, his nephew Ronald, and several aunts and uncles.
During the 1950s, Al joined the United States Coast Guard, and upon his return to civilian life, sold cars at a local dealership which began his lifetime love for automobiles.
Soon after that time, Al’s father began building homes on vacant lots on Davis Islands, and asked Al to help him. This began Al’s successful career as a home builder and ignited his talent for construction. He took a risk and built a small office building on Kennedy Boulevard and then a larger one near Bayshore Boulevard. In the mid 1960s, he and his father bought 17 acres of land at the corner of Westshore Boulevard and Cypress Street in the middle of cow pastures, orange groves and pine forests. Because of its proximity to a newly constructed interstate and a small but growing airport, Al built a six story office building on the vacant site and named it Austin Center. He soon built other buildings on the property, the first major development in what is now the Westshore Business District. Al’s vision helped shape what is now Florida’s largest commercial office market and Tampa’s major business center.
Al worked tirelessly and fought hard for the things in which he strongly believed. His love for his country and his respect for democracy led him to the duty he felt towards the American political system. Over the past 50 years, Al was a leader in the Republican Party of Florida, where he served as Finance Chairman and a member of the Florida Electoral College. He has been a delegate or alternate delegate to nearly every Republican Presidential Convention since 1972. In addition to the many races for Governor and U.S. Senate in which he served, Al also held statewide leadership positions in every Republican presidential campaign for over four decades.
Politics was not his only passion. Al’s enthusiasm for Tampa was evident in the many roles he held locally. He served as a chairman and a board member of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, a chairman of The Florida Council on Economic Education, a Board of Governors member of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce, a Board of Directors member of the Tampa Bay Partnership, a Board of Directors member of the Moffitt Cancer Center, a Chapter chairman of the Hillsborough County Red Cross, a president of the Hillsborough County Easter Seal Society and a president of the American Heart Association. Other leadership positions included director of the YPO 49’ers (Florida Chapter), director of the Florida Council of 100 and a trustee for Brenau College. In addition to these roles, Al had the energy and determination to be one of the original founders of the Westshore Alliance and Tampa Preparatory School. The World President’s Organization, the Prostate Cancer Network and Bel-Mar Presbyterian Church, where he formerly served as an elder, were also very important to him.
The University of Tampa held a special place in Al’s heart. He served the University as a Board of Trustee member, was a past Board Chairman, and was elected Chairman Emeritus in 1997. He and his wife Beverly co-chaired the University’s first Capital Campaign which helped to fund its major expansion.
Al was an avid supporter of the United States Military and its veterans. He served as Chairman of the MacDill Response team in 1991-1993, which was responsible for keeping MacDill Air Force Base from closing. In 2003, Governor Jeb Bush appointed Al to the Governor’s Advisory Board on Base Realignment and Closure.
For almost 60 years, Al was a member of the Hillsborough Lodge No. 25, Free and Accepted Masons, a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, and a member of the Egypt Temple Shrine.
Over the course of his life, Al received numerous awards for his service to the community. Al always said he did not serve his community for the sake of recognition, but for the importance of giving back and for the future of his children and grandchildren. Some of his awards include the Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award from the Tampa Metro Civitan Club, the Florida Council on Economic Education’s Free Enterpriser of the Year Award, the Alumnus of the Year Award from the University of Tampa, the International Commerce Award from World Trade Center Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Magazine Tip of the Hat Award and the Alec Courtelis Lifetime Achievement Award from the Republican Party of Florida. He was also inducted into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame and the Tampa Bay Real Estate Hall of Fame.
Al was a longtime member of the University Club, Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and the Centre Club.
Although his country and his community were two of the most important things in his life, Al would want to be remembered for the love he had for his family. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and no award he ever received or accomplishment he ever achieved would give him more pleasure than the pride and joy that his family gave him. He is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Beverly, his daughter Ann Tatomir and her husband Paul (Fallbrook, CA), his daughter Amy Guagliardo and her husband Nelson, and his two grandchildren, Lily Ann Guagliardo and Austin Guagliardo.
A visitation will be held on Friday, May 30 at the Vaughn Center at the University of Tampa (located on Poe Parkway and Kennedy Boulevard) between the hours of 3:00 pm and 5:30 pm. There will be a 2:00 pm memorial service on Saturday, May 31 at the Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church, located at 3501 San Jose St. (corner of San Jose and Himes Ave.). The pallbearers will be Paul Catoe, Don DeFosset, Nelson Guagliardo, Gene McNichols, Paul Tatomir, Dr. R. Vijay, Robert Watkins and Britt Whitaker. The 2012 GOP Host Committee for the Republican National Convention and all the dedicated employees of the A. S. Austin Company will be Honorary Pallbearers.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Al’s memory to one of the following; The American Red Cross (3310 W. Main St., Tampa, 33607), Bel-Mar Presbyterian Church (4003 S. Manhattan Ave., Tampa, 33629) or the University of Tampa Library Book Fund (401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, 33606). Visit the online guestbook at www.BlountCurryMacDill.com