Clay County Living


Bessie Irene Black of Bridgeport, Illinois was born December 28, 1911, in Lawrence County, Illinois, daughter of John and Lydia (Robbins) Catt. She died Thursday, February 19, 2015 in Lawrenceville, Illinois. She was 103. She married John Warren Black on June 29, 1929. He preceded her in death.  A homemaker, she was a noted genealogist and member of FirstChristian Church in Bridgeport. Survivors are brother Marion Catt, Grant Park, IL; daughter Rosemary Troxel, Polo, IL; daughter-in-law Eula Jean Black, Mattoon, IL; 4 grandchildren Susan (Pete) Whiting, Rock Falls, IL, Tom (Rosa) Troxel, Little Rock, Buck (Cindy) Black, Peachtree City, GA and Todd Black, Mattoon, IL; seven greatgrandchildren. She was a cousin of Betty Archer, Boydsville and the late Ronald Catt of Corning; Richard Smith and Edith Smith of Peach Orchard; Norris Boyd, Cleitus Boyd and others in the area. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband; son Ted R. Black; one brother; and five sisters. Funeral services were Monday February 23, 2015 at Glasser Funeral Home in Bridgeport with Pastor Bill Cox officiating. Burial in Zion Cemetery, Lawrenceville. Memorials may be made to First Christian Church, Bridgeport, or Irene Black Genealogical and Historical Library in Bridgeport, IL. 

Milburn Gambill, Wentzville, Missouri, formerly of Corning, was born in Datto, January 21, 1921 son of Elmer and Clara (Thomas) Gambill. He died in Parklane Care Center in Wentzville Saturday, February 21, 2015. He was 94. A veteran of the U.S. Navy and former owner and operator of Gambill Furniture Mart in West Alton, MO, he was a member of Landmark Missionary Baptist Church of Corning, Chambers Park Baptist Church and Lindsay Lane Baptist Church October 21, 1939 he married his wife, Ada Gambill, who preceded him in death in October 2006. Survivors are daughter Shirley Petelik; three grandchildren Stephen (Linda) Peteliki, Patricia Thess and David (Michelle) Petelik; great-grandchildren Heather Spies, Kayla, Cheyenne and Hunter Petelik, Amanda Stinson, Heather Potter and Nick Hessel; great-great-grandchildren Serenity, Louis and Aaylah; brothers Gene (Arlyn)  Gambill and James (Barbara) Gambill. He was preceded in death by his wife; parents; daughter Patsy Thess; siblings Rozzie and Winfred Gambill; Funeral services will be conducted Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. in  the chapel of Ermert Funeral Home. Burial in CorningCemetery. Sign online condolences at 

Jim Austin was born in Peach Orchard, AR on June 14, 1934 to Pelham and Esther Austin. Jim Austin’s affiliation with the Delaplaine School System began in 1940 at the Peach Orchard School, where he attended through the sixth grade, then transferred to Delaplaine. While at Delaplaine, Jim (known as Coach to all those who know him) excelled in basketball and baseball. After graduating from Delaplaine in 1952, he enrolled at Arkansas State College in Jonesboro lettering in Track and Basketball. In 1954 he met and married Marietta McRee. After receiving his BSE in 1957, Jim was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. While stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he coached company baseball and basketball. Post Army, he was hired to teach at the Knob School in 1959. The following year he transferred to the Knobel High School. In 1965 Coach Austin was hired as the Head Basketball Coach at Delaplaine High School. Coach Austin is the father of 3; Robin born in 1958, Kippi born in 1960 and Blaine born in 1964. He was also grandfather to Darrick Bridger, Mason Gott and Connor Gott. Coach Austin’s career at DHS was exciting and he had many accomplishments. In 1972 his Senior High basketball team won the District 5 Championship and he was named the Area 5 Coach of the Year. Throughout his career, it was common for Coach Austin to pay for lunches, vitamins, shoes, uniforms and many other things for students who were unable to afford such items, making it possible for them to participate in school sports. During the summer of 1969, Coach worked in Sarasota, Florida as the trainer for the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians rookie league. Among his players was a seventeen-year old Buddy Bell, who went on to play for the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros. Coach Austin’s started the track program at Delaplaine. With no budget and a big heart, he built the track, field, hurdles, pole vault pit, high jump pit and long jump pit with his own hands. He even built a concrete basketball court in Peach Orchard to give kids somewhere to play. The facilities were not state of the art but it didn’t prevent him from pumping out champions. Delaplaine had an outstanding track program and athletes. Many district and state records were broken with many of them still remaining. In 1974, Coach Austin was named the AAU Region 8 Coach in Track for Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma and headed up the teams at the National AAU meet in Lincoln, Nebraska. Among his protŽgŽes were three High School All-Americans; daughter Kippi, son Blaine and Courtenay Curtis. All three excelled at Track and Basketball. He also coached Arkansas State Representative David Cook. Coach Austin has been in AAU Summer Track for forty years and had three students that were National Champions. He retired from teaching in 1991, but remained as  a volunteer coach until the school closed in 2007. Since most of the athletes transferred to the Hoxie school system, Coach began volunteering his time with that program. While volunteering at DHS, the Senior Girls Track team won five consecutive State Championships. The Senior Boys had two second place finishes during that same time. Coach Austin was considered by officials as the “Premier Track Coach” in the state of Arkansas. Coach Austin was killed in a 2-car collision February 9, 2015 on Highway 304 near Pocahontas. He is survived by his wife Marietta Austin of the home; children Robin (Tim) Austin Minton of Jonesboro, Kippi (Mark) Halfin of Argyle, TX, and Blaine Austin of Baton Rouge, LA; sisters Betty Austin Chapman of Little Rock and Janice Austin Ford of Pocahontas; and three grandchildren Darrick (Jennie) Bridger, Mason and Connor Gott. He was preceded in death by his parents Pelham Austin, Sr. and Esther Ada (Toler) Austin; and brothers Pelham Austin, Jr. and Donald John “Buck” Austin. Visitation was Saturday, February 7 in Hoxie High School Gymnasium in Hoxie with funeral services following under the direction of Ermert Funeral Home. Burial in Pirtle Cemetery in Peach Orchard. Memorials may be made to Pirtle-Brownie Cemetery Assoc., 899 CR 206, Peach Orchard, AR 72453. Sign online condolences: