By Sherri Coner
As a hairdresser for nearly 40 years, Mary Austin learned long ago that a new haircut puts some pep in anybody’s step.
For more than a decade, Austin provided free haircuts at The Social of Greenwood.
She understands the challenges of living on a fixed income.
“I know how hard it is to make it,” Austin said. “By this age, we’ve all gone through so much in life.”
She also travels with her scissors to style hair for seniors who are confined.
Growing up in poverty made her heart soft for others who struggle or suffer hurts and losses, Austin said.
When December arrives, she bakes for days and delivers homemade sweets to fellow seniors who have no family.
When her neighbor was widowed, Austin planted flowers and weeded around her neighbor’s flower beds, hoping to brighten her mood.
“I don’t care what you have or what you don’t have,” Austin said with a smile. “There’s got to be some way that we can all help others.”
What do you consider your greatest virtue? I believe in giving to others
What human trait do you most dislike? Those who hate others.
What do you like most about living in Johnson County? I’ve been in Old Town Greenwood since 1994 and it’s home. I have an old house that I’m constantly working on, and I have good friends.
If you had to live somewhere other than in Johnson County, where would it be? Hawaii
If you could begin life over, what would you change? I would have more strength and confidence.
If money were no issue, how would you spend it? I love the fact that some food pantries don’t ask for a name and address. That embarrasses some people. So I would make things available for free and no one would have to say their name.
What makes you happiest? I love gardening and I have lots of flowers. I always grow way too many tomatoes, too. I put them in a box on my porch so anybody who wants them can help themselves.
What is your favorite vacation spot? I love Hawaii. There’s just something about that weather. It’s so good for my old bones.
What do you do with free time? I have a dog and two cats to look after, and I play a lot of solitaire.
What is it that makes you angry? I don’t like to see people judge others. You don’t know what anyone has been through.
What do you do to escape from reality? I listen to music and work in my yard.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? I would probably have to say my mother. She died when I was 12 years old.
What is the quality you most like in a person? Honesty
What is your greatest extravagance? I bought a home.
What are your fears/phobias? I worry sometimes about being alone.
What has been the happiest time of your life? My happiest time was the birth of my daughter, Brandy. She lives in Tennessee.
Which talent would you most like to possess? I would love to know how to play guitar. But growing up poor, we couldn’t have things like that.
What do you most value in your friends? Honesty
Which historical figure do you most identify with? I’ll say Joan of Arc. She was pretty cool.
What is your greatest regret? Getting married.
What principle do you live by? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.