Gerry Dean Austin

April 30, 1947March 27, 2021

Well...(as Gerry started many sentences), we lost a great husband, father, grandfather, and friend on March 27, 2021. Gerry made strong impressions on everyone he met through his quick wit, goofy laugh, insightful observations, lack of political correctness, ability to share his thoughts through expressions on his face, and fierce loyalty to his family.

Gerry took great pride in his work and relationships during his 35-year career with Caltrans. The bulk of his time was dedicated to highway landscaping and maintenance, although forming and leading crews was his real strength. He got the most out of others by setting the example through an unparalleled work-ethic and ability to communicate clearly...although not always concisely.

Gerry would be the first to say that his family was the biggest success. The foundation started over 50 years ago when he married Jackie (Oldham) in 1968. Their partnership served as a model for their child, Donald, and his friends who often packed their Chula Vista home. His legacy is forged in his family and his seeds will continue to grow through the lessons he taught subtly and without fanfare.

You know what...( another common "Gerry" prompt)? Gerry Austin had no idea how many people he impacted. He invested in others and expected no favors in return. He embodied the ideals of servant leadership and did the tough work with the goof attitude, a smile, and some long (repeated) stories.

Gerry is survived by his wife, Jackie, son, Donald, daughter-in-law, Paula, three grandchildren, Garrett, Emilie, and Kristin, and his brother Larry. *

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Austin family.


  • Jacqueline "Jackie" Austin, Spouse
  • Donald Austin (Paula), Son
  • Larry Austin, Brother
  • Grandchildren; Garrett, Emilie, Kristin


  • Graveside Committal Service

    Monday, April 12, 2021


Gerry Dean Austin

have a memory or condolence to add?

Kathleen Canney Lopez

April 12, 2021

Dear Austin family,
Your family are in my thoughts and prayers with the loss of dear inimitable Gerry. I share in your grief and send my love.

I am here for you my friend, Jackie.
Kathleen López

Fred Denenberg

April 11, 2021

My sincere condolences for the loss of this great man. May the memories we shared with him be a comfort and a blessing to us all.
I met Gerry when I started working at Caltrans almost 30 years ago.
He is one of the kindest and gentlest souls I have ever known with a positive attitude and a spirit that always put a smile on the face of everyone he encountered.

Ted Thurston

April 11, 2021

I met Gerry over 20 years ago when I came to work with him and the rest of the Caltrans Maintenance Support staff. We became close friends within a few weeks and I was blessed to be a part of his life ever since. I miss my best friend!

One story I have of Gerry was when our staff was having an annual Safety Meeting. We were all sitting around a conference table listening to something that was supposed to keep us safe. I dozed off and when I caught myself I looked up to see if anyone had noticed. Gerry was looking right at me from across the table with a big grin on his face. He must have laughed or said something about me to the person seated next to him when he was called out by our boss, Marc Campo. Nothing serious, but Gerry never let me forget that he was the one who got in trouble for me sleeping through the Safety Meeting!

It was never a good idea to let Gerry share self defense moves with us. He would say something like, "Come at me like you are going to punch me in the face" or, "Come up behind me and grab my arm". Then he'd say, "This isn't going to hurt." Yea, right! In a second he would have me begging for mercy with my thumb bent back toward the inside of my elbow! It took a while for some of us to catch on to him. I bet Jackie never let him get away with that on her.

Gerry absolutely loved and adored Jackie! It seems that when he wasn't with his friends at work he was with Jackie. After he retired and his health problems increased he spent much of his time waiting for Jackie to come home from work. She was always there for him and he was there for her.

As everyone knows, Gerry was a story teller and to me the most memorable were of his son Donald. I enjoyed hearing his high school and college football stories, the story of their traditional father and son meals at Hank's Deli and especially stories of Donald's stellar career in education. Gerry was so proud of his his son. I think he counts Donald as his greatest accomplishment!

Donald Austin

April 10, 2021

Thank you to everyone who has shared their memories of my dad. Many have shared about his quick sense of humor, telling stories, and his love of family. Those are all certainly stand out qualities and things I will also remember forever.

My dad took up martial arts… when he was nearly 50. He enjoyed the physical part, but really enjoyed the mental aspect. It was like some of the teachings were always inside of him and it all just made sense.

When my dad was told to do things that had nothing to do with his job description… he just did them. I should add the words “to the best of his ability” since that’s how he did everything. He taught me to do what needs to be done, regardless of who was originally supposed to do it. That's a lesson in leadership.

Some things were very predictable with my dad growing up. I knew to have a glove ready when he got home from work...every night. I knew he would try to hide motorcycle injuries from my mom. I knew he would never miss a game. I knew he would always have a story to convey a lesson on any topic. I knew if you spent enough time with him, you would laugh at some point. He lives in me and my family. That will never change.

Paula Austin

April 9, 2021

They say that ALL GREAT things are a number of small things which have been carefully collected together. Dad was GREAT because of all the small things he did so well. He took pride in his work, took care of his belongings, and took enjoyment from his family being together. He always made sure that everyone was taken care of first. He made us laugh, caused us to think, and taught us to endure. Technically his daughter-in-law, he welcomed me into his home and into the family as a daughter. How lucky I am that he taught Don lasting life lessons that have influenced our marriage and family in the best way possible. I will miss him, but look forward to when we will meet again.

Robert Osuna

April 9, 2021

My condolences to Gerrys family. Gerry was such a pleasant person, I don’t think he ever had a bad day in his life. He will be missed.

Garrett Austin

April 9, 2021

My Grandpa was always sharing stories, and in those stories there would usually be some kind of lesson that he had learned from whatever experience we were discussing at the moment. And although I still hold on to a lot of those stories and the lessons they held, I think the most important lesson my Grandpa taught me wasn't from any verbal expression but by his actions just living as a man. Through countless self-defense demonstrations my Grandpa showed me he was tough, that it was important to be able to get hit and to keep moving forward. Seeing his woodshed for the first time was like walking into Santa's workshop, I didn't know what he was making but who cared, I was on sacred ground. I'll never forget our roadtrip to Tombstone to see cowboy graves and explore caves, and in-between snoring naps and rest stops he never stopped entertaining me along the way. Fishing from a pier when he pointed to some land across the water and said, "Yup, that's Mexico," still makes me laugh to this day. I love my Grandpa. I only hope that I'll be able to share his stories to my future kids as well as he would have told them himself. I'll miss you Grandpa, but you'll be with me and loved forever.

Kristin Austin

April 7, 2021

I can’t remember a time that I was with my grandpa that I wasn’t laughing. I remember goofing off with my sister and my grandparents while he taught us how to fish. I don’t remember if we caught anything that day but I remember having a lot of fun and I remember thinking that my grandpa was really smart at fishing. He could tell you everything about it- why some techniques were better than others, how to cut up the bait, and how long you needed to wait before reeling in. I feel like every time I was with him I was learning some lesson. He even taught me the right way to open a packet of Twizzlers just a few months ago. I don’t know if he knew it at the time because we were all being so silly, but those lessons have stuck with me.
Although he’s not here anymore, I know he will always be with us in the lessons that he taught us and the laughter that we shared. We will always love him.

Marc Campo Sr

April 7, 2021

Gerry looked at life a little different than most people. I met Gerry in 1977 at the Chollas Landscape Station. We became friends right away and I knew I could depend on him to get the job done.
Several years later Gerry worked for me again in Maintenance Support. He always had a story to tell and wisdom to share. My favorite story was when we were all gathered around the radio in the District Office waiting for the O J Simpson verdict to be read. Gerry asked if there were ladies on the jury and someone said yes. Gerry said well then, they’ll find him guilty. How so, someone asked. “Because women have no idea what it take to win a Heisman Trophy.” No one but Gerry could have thought up that response.

He must have been in his 50s when he took up karate. He would practice his moves on the DO loading dock during breaks and lunch. Often he would come to work battered and bruised from training but he stuck with it. Don’t know what level he achieved but I’m sure he deserved it.

Gerry was a good friend, a pleasure to work with and stand up guy

RIP my friend.

Emilie Austin

April 6, 2021

In 6th grade, I had the opportunity to write a report on any person over the age of 65. I chose to write about my Grandpa Austin. We got to talk on the phone and he shared stories with me about his hot rod car and his life in the trailer park growing up. We shared a lot of laughs throughout the project and I enjoyed learning about his life. When it came time to present my project in front of the whole 6th grade, I couldn't have been prouder to do it on anyone but my Grandpa Austin. I have many memories of my grandpa. I'll never forget the stories he shared with me and the lessons he taught me. He never failed to put a smile on my face, make me laugh, or brighten my day. I will miss him so much and I will love him forever.