Waynesville, Susan Byrd Tipton Austin, 61, died Tuesday, January 31, 2023, at her home in Waynesville, North Carolina. She suffered from Lewy body dementia after a successful battle with stage-three breast cancer.
Susan was born January 13, 1962, in Asheville, North Carolina, to the late John and Carolyn Tipton. A graduate of Asheville High School, Susan attended the University of Kentucky on a music scholarship. She was an accomplished flute player.
Susan was co-owner and publisher of the weekly Yancey County News in Burnsville, North Carolina, a newspaper that existed for several years in an attempt to provide Yancey County with legitimate and unbiased news. Based on their work, she and her husband, Jonathan, equally earned the 2011 E.W. Scripps Award for Distinguished Service to the First Amendment; the 2012 Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism, given by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky; and the 2012 Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism, given by The University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.
Susan worked for many years in technical construction sales and support in the Charlotte region, and she was very proud of what she did to provide technical assistance in helping make safer many Charlotte high-rises, hospitals, apartment buildings and schools.
Susan is survived by Jonathan, of the home; her sons, Jason Ridenhour and his wife, Becca Rainey Ridenhour, of Davidson, North Carolina, and Michael Ridenhour and fiancé Rachel Zarkin of Raleigh, North Carolina; a sister, Patricia Tipton of Mills River, North Carolina; a brother, Ned Tipton of Norwalk, Connecticut; three step-daughters, Sarah Austin of Decatur, Georgia, and Rachel Mongno and Rebekah Austin, of Asheville; six grandchildren: Henry, Kennedy and Madelyn Ridenhour of Davidson, North Carolina, and Elizabeth, Ruth and Julia Slaven of Decatur, Georgia; an aunt, numerous cousins and other family, and countless friends.
A memorial gathering will be held in the spring. A GoFundMe account, in lieu of flowers, has been established in Susan’s memory to benefit students in the music department at Asheville High School. https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-susan-byrd-tipton-austin?utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1&utm_content=undefined&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer&utm_term=undefined
The care of Mrs. Austin has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Home of Waynesville and an online memorial register is available at "Obituaries" at www.wellsfuneralhome.com