Austin L. Wolff

Mar 19, 1925 – Mar 1, 2016

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Obituary

Austin L. Wolff Obituary and Extraordinary Final Exit Story 

In his eighth and nineth decade of life, when many Austin Wolff’s age would be lost in their dotage, he produced an iStore app.In a happy mood and joking with his family, Austin passed away via Compassionate Choices assisted suicide, March 1, 2016, at home in Federal Way, WA. 

Posted to Facebook Monday, Feb 29th, 2016: Eight years ago I remember standing with my elderly father on the corner of Pac/Hwy and 320th, holding signs in support of the Death With Dignity Act, to be voted on later in the year. The act passed. Tomorrow, my father will partake of this merciful decree, and exercise his right to an easy and pleasant exit on his own terms. . . on his own couch. . . with the pug on his lap. . . probably watching CNBC’s Mad Money show.

 Prologue 

Monday was the last visit from Austin’s Hospice nurse. They went through their usual questions and answers as to his body functions. Weight, blood pressure, have you eaten, etc. When that was satisfied they sat facing each other, he on the couch, she on his walker seat. 

“I’m glad it’s March first,” he told her referring to his departure date. “I can’t make it to March 2nd.” 

Text to Austin March 1, early, from his Southern niece. 

Linda: “Good morning. Hoping you are still around to share yourself with family and friends. Much love sent your way.”

Austin: “Hi, thanks. I am up at 5 for my last breakfast which is Ward’s hash which Gee sent. Thank him for me. And it has been fun knowing you also, delightful.” 

Linda: “Could be more delightful if you hang in there a little longer!!!!! It would make me and others very happy instead of very sad.” 

Austin: “Physically, not a great idea. . . and borderline. I must be able take the better [road] now that I am able.”

 Day of Reckoning 

I was up by 6. Thankful for something to do and why break with routine, I went to the gym. Dad went through his morning regime, feed the dog, enjoy the afore mentioned hash while watching Cramer rant about stocks. 

My sister, Brett came at 7:30, handed Austin the phone encouraging him to make goodbye calls. He was having fun with the calls. 

Rachel, my niece, came at 8:30 announcing how good Grandpa looked. 

I was posting on Facebook as we went along. It seemed appropriate and, hell, it was funny. 

Facebook Posts:

“People call my dad and ask How are you? “Fine, Great!” he responds. This cracks up the End of Life volunteers. How do you close the phone call for the last time, “see you later?”  

 The volunteers, two wise and kind women, Laurel and Carolyn, came at 9 and reviewed how it would go.

  • Take the anti nausea pills one hour prior to time of departure.
  • At the dedicated time, get comfortable, drink the half cup of bitter tasting medicine. This can be mixed with hard alcohol and a spoonful of sweet helps the medicine go down. 

The volunteers began separating the Reaper-tini 's 90 capsules of death on a clean sheet of plastic. 

I posted on Facebook: “They’re making little white mountains of powdered endless sleep. 

Friends responded: “Right there with you.” “here, not here. . .Peace.” “Thinking of you.” 

We were all laughing hearing Austin’s strange conversations. “It’s been nice knowing you,” “Have a great life,” “It’s not my problem anymore,” “goodbye forever.” He even got to “I love you too,” which he never said. 

The mood in the house was light and joyful, celebratory, even. 

At 10 he took the anti nausea pills. One hour to go. 

Taking a break from phone calls, he sprang up announcing he was going to get dressed. A few minutes later, he came out all dappered up. Brett and I were blown away as we’d not seen him move that well in years. 

Molly on Facebook commented: “What a great choice your father is able to make. I hope all states allow this act of dignity one day.” The sentiment was echoed throughout my news feed. 

Other comments: “Safe travels,” “What an amazing story,” “amazing gift.” 

Departure 

At zero hour, Dad decided to leave by way of his bedroom. Rachel walked him down the hall where he reclined on the bed leaning his right shoulder on Brett who took his hand. He announced that he was resolved about everything. “And do you have confidence in us to manage going forward,” I asked?” “Yes," he replied, "I have confidence in you.”

The volunteers reminded him that the reapertini was bitter so Brett was prepared with a spoonful of chocolate sauce in her hand. Not to mention the supply of emergency morphine also handy should something go wrong. 

Austin took a gulp of the reapertini, grimaced and exclaimed “It is bitter!” That got a laugh. Without hesitation he swallowed the rest belching soundly, cracking up the room! 

At that moment, his friend Bob called. “. . .Yes, I’m dead set about this,” Austin said into the iPhone. “Oops, I think it’s time. I’ve gotta go,” he said handing the phone away.

 “I’m going to take a quick nap,” he told Brett, closed his eyes and went to sleep. Just like that, smooth as silk. Within seconds Brett was reporting that he was getting cold 

Facebook comments: “Sending wishes for a peaceful transition.” “Hope it goes smoothly.” “Will be thinking of you both.” “So glad he is able to do this on his own terms.” “a peaceful transition for all.” 

My dad shook the hand of death and walked away with him on his own terms. 

From the time he took the first gulp to when he stopped breathing was no more than 3 to 5 minutes. 

Born March 19, 1925, in New York city, Austin L Wolff left it on the field. He was 90. Survived by his sister Doris Foster, CO., two daughters, Brett Braaten, Lezlie Wolff, and granddaughter, Rachel Braaten of Puget Sound. 

Police. . . and Thieves 

From Facebook: “Why are there 2 police cruisers out front?” 

After the volunteers and Rachel left, while waiting for the hearse, I went to walk the dog. There was a cop car across the street. I yelled in at Brett, "Uh oh, we've been found out, the cops are here!" Hahaha. 

Then I noticed the other cop car parked right in front of our house and the two cops are walking toward us. 

They had come to do a welfare check as “someone was reported being held against his will at this address," announced the male cop. An unidentifiable, out of state call had come in to the police department two hours earlier. Too bad they missed the fun. 

Fortunately Brett knew this officer, invited he and his partner in to see the legitimacy of the paperwork and to examen the body. Brett said the cop went into Dad's room, tentatively reached out and touched him, snapping his hand back saying "Yup, he's dead." Satisfied, they left. 

But who had made the call? Who knew this was happening, knew the date and address? The selfish cad."

Text to Austin 2/29 from southern baptist relation: “You have two lovely daughters and a granddaughter who needs you very much! Please rethink your future!” 

The two daughters (both over 50) and granddaughter (employed by Lamborghini) might not quite agree with such outdated and selfish sentiments. 

Undertaker job obstacles 

This is a 1960s house, narrow halls and difficult corners for furniture and gurneys. The very professional undertakers, a woman and a man, got the gurney into his room, slipped him in the black plastic zip-lock bag, and loaded him onto the rolling cart. 

As they attempted to round the tight corner, tipping the gurney slightly, he started sliding off. Brett and I locked eyes, slammed our hands to our mouths biting our palms running to the far corners of the house,  quashing our laughter so not to disrespect the solemn undertakers. Dad never touched the floor. Well done undertakers! 

. . .And Thieves 

After the cremation, when we went to pick up his ashes, the conscientious admin woman was standing outside the building. She told us she had locked herself out. If we could run some errands, she would call us when she got back in. No problem for us. 

When we returned, she informed us some guy had broken in that morning and was in there when we first drove up! Turns out, funeral homes get hit by thieves looking to take valuables from the deceased. 

Dad came home in a blue box with and American flag for his service in the Air Force which are displayed on an end table. Days later, going through Dad’s wallet we came across his drivers license. Evidently he was an organ donor. Oops! 

Three months later he gets called for jury duty. 

Auntin Wolff 1925-2016 

“We honor Austin for his full life,” wrote cousins. “Austin, creative force for so much good. My confident friend and brother,” sister Doris. “Uncle, mentor, curmudgeon and philosopher, investor, war time defender,” from cousins. Comrade in arms with Bertram Stone and Lionel Vessiere, AF navigator, pilot, sailor, race car driver, photographer, racehorse owner, NACA (NASA), engineer, entrepreneur, skier, runner, adventurous gourmand, and dBug Exchange (Apple Users Group) member from early on. 

Happy sailing, Dad!

 

Guestbook

Steven Corey
Kirkland, WA
Jul 26, 2016

Our eccentric friend Austin, how much we do miss him. For over 35 years he was a true friend. He challenged the status quo always with thought provoking insights, a unique world view that was "spot on". He was part of our family and was always a welcome guest. Thanksgiving will never be the same without him.

Who else could wear an ascot with such style and grace in this day and age.....

Claire Wilson
Auburn, WA
Jul 17, 2016

I just saw your fathers obituary in the Seattle Times. He and I had many, many interesting conversations about his app, the need to teach coding, and what more the school district should be doing on behalf of readying our young people for technology and the future. More than once he spoke during public comment at the school board meetings and/or had his granddaughter speak on his behalf. I loved our conversations both in person and over email. I'm sorry to hear of his passing but as I read your story I'm certain he would have had it no other way. Thank you for sharing the story. Your father is someone I will not forget!

Fondly,

Claire Wilson

Federal Way School Board Director

Linda D Funderburk ( niece )
Cookeville , Tn
Jul 17, 2016

This obituary is provided by Bonney-Watson, providing caring and compassionate funeral, cremation and cemetery services since 1868. We have a professional staff, four funeral homes, two cremation facilities and one of the largest cemeteries south of Seattle, as well as a comprehensive grief support program.

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