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Marilyn H. Austin

Marilyn Helen (MacMaster) Austin made her transition on June 2, 2020. She was predeceased by her mother Helen (Gleason) MacMaster, father George W. MacMaster, and brother George M. MacMaster.

Marilyn was born in Syracuse, and was a lifelong resident. She was a pioneering woman of Syracuse's LGBTQ community, as well as a staunch feminist, and social justice activist & advocate. Marilyn loved a good political debate!, and would readily seek out political discussion.

The term “social butterfly” could easily be used to describe Marilyn. Peruse her weekly date book, and one could find many appointments of the social kind, such as coffee with friends at Recess, a lunch date with one of her kids or grandkids, meetings with her book club, get-togethers with childhood schoolmates, as well as walking and exercise classes, potlucks, and dances at SAGE Upstate, to name only a few. Friends, throughout her life, are too many to count, and hail from a variety of intersecting circles among the Syracuse community.

As a young adult, Marilyn graduated from LeMoyne College, and at the age of 52, she graduated with a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from SUNY Oswego.

Marilyn’s work life was eclectic. In the 1970s, she was co-owner of Women Works, a women-owned home repair, painting, and carpentry business, one of her many glass-ceiling shattering endeavors.  She was a founding member and for a time, Director, of the Women’s Information Center, a safe space for women regardless of socioeconomic status, race, creed, or sexual orientation. For a time, she was executive director of ECOH (Euclid Community Open House), now Westcott Community Center, and held a position as Energy Auditor for Onondaga Cooperative Extension.

After receiving her graduate degree, Marilyn worked in several different roles, including as an employment counselor with Jobs Plus, a program specialist with the Food Bank of CNY, senior counselor/case manager with both Syracuse Brick House and Liberty Resources, as well as a chemical dependency therapist with Crouse Irving-Memorial Hospital.

Post-retirement, Marilyn continued doing handy woman jobs for friends and acquaintances, helped with care of her grandchildren, and occasionally worked for the Board of Elections.

Marilyn is survived by her children, Sara Austin-Wilson of Navarino, Pete Austin of Syracuse, and Christine Austin of Bellingham, WA.  She is survived by her grandchildren Benjamin and Natalie Wilson of Navarino, and Kevin Battersby of Raleigh, NC, as well as so very many beloved friends.

Marilyn was interred on June 8th during a private burial service at Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve in Newfield, NY. A celebration of her life will take place when conditions allow.

Contributions in her memory may be made to SAGE Upstate or The Food Bank of CNY.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Marilyn Austin, please visit our flower store.


I have many, many happy memories of Marilyn from the 1980's. She was a dynamic, imaginative conversationalist. I was going to send her a Christmas card this year just to re-connect. Too late. Sorry.

Joe Clark Dec 15 2021 2:23 PM

Dear Grandma,
Its been almost three months. Im so upset that you are gone. Im angry in every way possible but i promise one day I will learn to let go because I know thats what you want me to do. I miss you so much and I wish you were here. Im sorry that you had to go so soon but I promise we all still think about you all the time. I know that you want us to be happy. I hope that wherever you are right now, you are euphoric and at peace. Im sorry you never got to leave your hospital bed, but I know that wherever you are right now, you are walking free. I know that in the afterlife you are flashing your smile and watching down on us. The nurse at the hospital said that you parted this realm with grace and dignity, and there is not an ounce of doubt in my mind that it is true. I know wherever you are, you are shining on everybody and everything possible. Thank you for visiting me in my dreams so often. Thank you for being the person in my life I was closest to. I do believe that you were my soulmate in the sense that we were two peas in a pod. You always told me that the one thing you wanted to see before you passed was my high school graduation. Im sorry that you are not going to be able to see it in person, but I can promise you no matter what I will make you proud and follow my dreams like you always taught me to. I miss you so much. We all love you more than you could ever know. I promise to visit your grave soon and leave flowers. I love you to infinity.
With peace and love,
your granddaughter,

Natalie Wilson Aug 28 2020 12:00 AM

My deepest condolences to Marilyn's family. Your mother and grandmother was one of a kind as you well know. I've known her for several decades, first through the women's center in Syracuse, then via various social justice movements. I always knew when I'd run into Marilyn over the years of changes in both our work and personal lives I'd find a smiling, caring and wise friend who'd be ready to offer an ear and/or some advice if I needed it. I last ran into her while we were both out walking in the neighborhood during this coronavirus time and it was sad for both of us not to be able to share a warm hug with this woman I've called a friend for many a year now. I along with so many folks in the Central New York area will miss you dearly Marilyn.

Diana F. Cramer Jul 14 2020 12:00 AM

My most sincere sympathies to Marilyns family. When I relocated to Syracuse in the mid 80s, she was a wild and welcoming force in the womans community. Marilyns presence could always be counted on at any event and she was always game for a spin around the dance floor at the club. I shall hold her in my heart as one of the elders who taught me how to be in the world with energy, grace and good humor.

Geri Lynne Jackson Jul 2 2020 12:00 AM

Dear Marilyn,
Hard to imagine you have been gone for a month and not exercising with our Falls Prevention class. You were so dedicated to gaining strength and balance by attending for all those three years. In addition I always enjoyed talking with you while you were walking on the treadmill in the gym during the winter months. I would also occasionally see you out in your neighborhood putting in the miles. I have known you since those days at Info and we continued our friendship through Sage Upstates various programs. You are so missed in our community and personally it is hard to imagine going back into the Sage center and teaching without that chair in the second row being filled with your smiling face(and those 5 pound weights in your hands).

Barb Genton Jul 1 2020 12:00 AM

Please accept the most heartfelt sympathies of Le Moyne College. We hope the love and memories you will forever hold in your heart bring you peace and comfort during this difficult time.

Le Moyne College, Office of Alumni and Parent Programs Jun 23 2020 12:00 AM

Chris, Sara and Peter, my sincere sympathy to you. I was stunned to see your mother's obituary. Marilyn's and my paths have crossed so often these many years. Each encounter with Marilyn was so real, so important for me. I will miss her.
Mary Jane O'Brien Monsour

Mary Jane O'Brien Monsour Jun 22 2020 12:00 AM

Dear Marilyn, Just saw your obituary. We were partners for nine years, friends for the 26 more years after we separated. I loved your children, Chris, Sarah, and Peter, and grandson Kevin (he and Chris lived in our house for three years after we separated). I would have wished many more years of vivacious, loving life for you.

With much continuing love,

Bonnie Shoultz Jun 21 2020 12:00 AM

I didn't know Marilyn well, but always enjoyed talking with her at social events. I sensed her power so was not surprised to hear of all her activist work. I wish we could talk again. Lots of woo in your transition....

Anne Fairbrother Jun 21 2020 12:00 AM

I still cant believe Marilyn is gone. She certainly did have an award winning smile !
I enjoyed the conversations and laughs we had over lunch with the SAGE walking group. She was such a beautiful human being. Marilyn is so treasured and will be sorely missed.

Sue Friedland Jun 21 2020 12:00 AM

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