Gene Austin – 1939 – 2020 – Sycamore Drive-In Owner & Cruiser

Gene Austin – 1939 – 2020 – Sycamore Drive-In Owner & Cruiser

Gene Austin was born in Danbury, CT on September 4, 1939, a son of Herbert (Ted) and Josephine (Jurinski) Austin. Growing up in the Fourth Ward, he had great memories of his childhood and friendships that lasted a lifetime. He attended Danbury Schools and was very involved in the F. H. Lee Memorial Youth Group and Little League Baseball. At DHS, he was a member of Coach Dan O’Grady’s Championship Track Team in 1953 and graduated with the “infamous” Class of 1957.

After graduation, Gene joined the Navy and attended boot camp in Bainbridge, MD. He went to school to become a Navy Corpsman, serving aboard the USS Ranger, an aircraft carrier that operated in the Pacific. He enjoyed his time in the Navy where he was able to see different parts of the world and was very proud of his service to his country.

When his Navy tour ended, Gene returned to Danbury and joined his father in business. For the next 45 plus years, he was involved in the paving industry, first as the owner of Austin Paving and later as an estimator for Grosso Construction of Norwalk and American Pavement Specialists of Danbury. He liked to reminisce about all the driveways and parking areas he had paved over the years. He could tell you when the job was completed and who was working at the time. He especially enjoyed his years working for Grosso Construction where he had the opportunity to work for some area celebrities.

In 1997, Gene and his family bought the Sycamore Drive-In, a Bethel landmark. When he and his son, Patrick, brought back the famous Sycamore Summer Cruise Nights in 1998, it gave him the chance to share his love of 50’s cars and memorabilia with all those who participated. For the past 20 years, he attended almost every Cruise Night driving either his 1956 Ford Crown Victoria or his 1956 Ford Pick-Up. He enjoyed talking with other car enthusiasts and sharing stories. Proud to be a veteran, Gene liked to have related pictures hanging in the restaurant. They were always a focal point for conversations with patrons.

In his retirement and up until the last few weeks, he spent his mornings at the Sycamore talking with customers and helping out. Afternoons, he liked to stop by the Catholic War Veterans to visit with fellow veterans.

Gene was a member of the Catholic War Veterans and served as Treasurer and Historian. He was also a member of the VFW in Danbury, the American Legion in Bethel, a past member of the Danbury Exchange Club and a lifetime member of Wooster Hose Company.

A devoted husband, proud father and good friend, he will be greatly missed.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Christine, of Bethel; his son, Patrick of Danbury; his daughter, Kathleen Rockwell and her husband, Mark, of Bethel. He is also survived by his sisters-in-law, Patricia Egan and her husband, John; Sharon Davis; and Maura Melody. Several nieces and nephews also survive.

Gene was predeceased by his parents; his brother, Theodore; his mother-in-law, Christine Melody; and his brothers-in-law Frank Davis, John Melody and Martin “Butch” Melody.

Due to the present pandemic, services and burial will be at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Gene’s memory may be made to The Scotty Fund, PO Box 1080, Bethel, CT 06801 or to The Catholic War Veterans, 2 Shalvoys Lane, Danbury, CT 06810