On November 9, 2023, Dr. Frederick DaCosta Austin, III peacefully graduated from this earth to joyfully reunite with his wife, Cheryl, in God’s kingdom.
He was born on September 30, 1941 to Dr. Frederick D. Austin, Jr. and Elizabeth Howard Austin in Charlotte, NC. Growing up as an only child, he regularly spent holidays and vacations with cousins from Charlotte and Fuquay Springs, often recounting summers he had spent at his aunt’s beach house in South Carolina and summer camps at the Citadel.
As the son of a doctor, he decided at an early age to follow his father’s path. After graduating from Myers Park High School in 1959, he matriculated at Davidson College where he completed his bachelor’s degree in Pre-Medicine in 1963. He proceeded to medical school at the University of North Carolina, where he met his best friend and future wife, Cheryl Metts who was working as a nurse at University Hospital.
They were married in 1969, while he was a resident in Internal Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, where he was graciously appointed to be Chief Resident in his second year – a position normally reserved for third year residents. The two found new adventures moving to Boston, where Fred accepted a fellowship in Infectious Disease at Harvard that was briefly interrupted fulfilling his Berry Plan commitment to the Army, where he obtained the rank of Major and was stationed at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg. Upon completing his fellowship in 1974, he joined the faculty of the University of Louisville Medical School, working primarily at the Veterans Administration Hospital and becoming Chief of Staff – a position he would eventually hold at every hospital he was affiliated with from that point forward.
Well regarded for his compassionate, honest approach to medicine, he decided to shift his focus from academics to private practice in 1980 and relocated to Paducah, KY. After five years there, he was lured back to North Carolina and to Little Washington by close friends from medical school. As a partner of Pamlico Internal Medicine, he was proud to be an Eastern North Carolinian and provide care to Washington and the surrounding communities until his retirement in 2010.
While his career in medicine was outstanding, he may be best remembered for his work outside of the hospital. His passion for working with young people and athletics was forged in 1976 when a neighbor asked if he would be interested in being the team physician for Ballard, a local high school in Louisville. Thus began a path of volunteer service that Doc, as he became known, pursued for the rest of his life.
For almost 40 years, he was a fixture on the sidelines and in the locker and training rooms for Ballard, Paducah Tilghman, and Washington High Schools offering any assistance he could. He was always gracious with his time and felt that physical activity and being part of a team were paramount in the development of young people’s lives. Every season, he would perform physicals for athletes free of charge to help eliminate any barriers a student might have in participating. He was fortunate to be part of teams that won Kentucky High School State Championships in basketball, football, and soccer.
While he cherished all of the teams he was a part of, his role as a baseball coach stands out. Over the course of 30 years, he served as the assistant coach for Washington High School baseball teams that reached multiple state semifinals and, in 1991, finished second in the state. In addition to his work with the high school, he assumed the role of head coach for the local Senior Babe Ruth team and led them to a state championship in 1995. He then moved to American Legion baseball where he managed the Beaufort County Post 15 team for over a decade.
He was humbled to receive many awards for his volunteerism over the years. Notably, he was named the Sports Medicine Person of the Year by the North Carolina Athletic Trainers’ Association, cited as an Unsung Hero by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, selected as the 12th Man for the Paducah Tilghman High School football team, inducted into the Washington High School Walk of Fame, Had his number 20 retired by the Washington High School baseball team, and received the Community Service Award from the Greater Washington Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to his volunteer service, Fred was an avid tennis player throughout his life. His senior 3.5 men’s team won multiple North Carolina district and state championships and ultimately, with Fred as the captain, won a USTA National Championship in 1997.
He was a passionate Tar Heels fan, regularly attending football and basketball games with his two sons and could be found listening to Braves games throughout the summer. He also had a great love for music, and his extensive collection was one that gave him much joy, as he often would play some of his favorites for anyone who might stop by.
Fred loved being a Washingtonian and, with his wife Cheryl, was a mainstay of West Main Street for three decades, opening his waterfront home to neighbors, athletes, luncheons, and showers. They both had a strong affinity for the water and the beach and felt blessed to be in such close proximity to it after spending years in Kentucky. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church and enjoyed additional fellowship at the Church of Good Shepherd.
In his retirement, Fred and Cheryl moved to Asheville’s Given Estates, where they could be closer to their sons and grandchildren whom they held with great pride and affection.
In the end, Fred led an unassuming life, filled with service and love. One that I am sure that he would say was not that remarkable. But he showed us that when you pursue the things you are passionate about with an open heart, wonderful things can happen. That little things matter. And one person can make a difference.
He is survived by his two sons, Dac (Elizabeth) and Trevor (Kirstin); grandchildren Maura Metts, Evelyn, Ursula, Clark, and Eleanor; cousins Jay (Dolores) Howard, Mark (Margaret) Howard, and Harriet (Robert) Vinay; in-laws Gayle (Charlie) Adams, Carey (Jennie) Metts, and Kenneth (Becky) Metts as well as many nieces and nephews.
A party celebrating his life will be held at Fox Hollow Farm in Washington, NC on Friday, November 24 at 5pm. All are welcome.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Washington High School baseball team in Washington, NC.