Austin Wilson, our youngest apprentice and one of the dearest members of our team, passed away in his sleep while traveling with us at The International Builders Show. Austin was just 18 years old. His passing has left our hearts broken. Our love goes out to his family.
Photo by Kevin O"Connor Last April, Austin submitted his application to be an apprentice on our crew and we eagerly accepted him from a pool of hundreds. In his application, Austin spoke about finding a pathway through childhood adversity by working with his hands. It was music to our ears. Austin also spoke about a promise he had made to his five siblings — and one that they made back to him. That nothing would hold them back. And nothing but death itself, it seemed, could hold Austin back.
Starting a New Journey
Photo by Kevin O"Connor Just one day after his high school graduation he boarded a plane for the first time, left his family behind and joined the This Old House crew, a small and tight-knit family that has been together for more than twice Austin’s 18 years. Newcomer status didn’t faze Austin; it seemed only to make him work harder, to want more. He worked and embraced this opportunity as if he were in hurry, as if he knew that time was short.
He was eager to drive the new truck, to wear his new tool belt and to explore his new city of Boston, despite long days and tired hands. He did everything Charlie Silva asked, took everything Tommy Silva gave, learned everything Norm Abram taught. But most important he befriended his two apprentice colleagues, Nathan and Bailey, and with nothing more than his heart and hard work, he earned their respect and their love.
Destined for Success
Photo by Kevin O"Connor On Monday night, Austin’s last, he ate supper at a long table with his extended This Old House family. The next morning, he was scheduled to stand on a stage and be introduced to a crowd of five thousand as part of the next generation of craftsmen and women. Despite the big moment awaiting him Austin wore a content smile and carried on an easy conversation at supper, as if Tuesday would be just another day. And although Tuesday never came for Austin, I suspect for a young man of such tremendous promise it would have been just another day, in a life destined for success.
Thank You, Austin
Photo by Kevin O"Connor Austin, your work is done. Rest your hands now, and let our hands bear you up so that you will not strike your foot against a stone and so that He may hold you in the palm of His hand.
- TOH Host Kevin O"Connor
A Few Words from Nate
Photo by Kevin O"Connor I consider myself lucky to have met Austin Wilson. It didn"t take long for me to find out why people used words like “leader,” “role model,” and “inspiration” when they talked about him. For ten weeks I had the opportunity to be able to work alongside Austin on the This Old House job site. Over that time Austin talked often about his family back in Wilmington and the Kids Making It woodworking program that he was a part of. Week in and week out Austin represented the ideal apprentice, motivated and eager to learn. He will forever be remembered for his positive attitude, his lightheartedness, his headbands at the job site, and his dedication as a friend. Without a doubt, Austin has left his mark on this world and will be greatly missed.
- TOH Apprentice Nate Gilbert
We"ll Miss You, Austin
Please visit KidsMakingIt.org to learn more about Austin"s beloved after-school program, where he got his start in woodworking. Get in touch with Kids Making It directly to learn more about the Austin Wilson Memorial Fund.