The Pacific Northwest has lost one of its brightest lights with the passing of inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, veteran and community leader, Ken Austin. A one-time employee of Tektronix, Ken was a close friend of both Jack Murdock (who he reflected upon in a recent video project) and Jim Castles (one of the original three Murdock Trustees), who both found his ambition to serve others and passion to uplift his community to be a constant source of inspiration.
Born in Missoula, Montana, and raised on a farm in Newberg, Oregon, Ken demonstrated a passion for tinkering, fixing and inventing from an early age, starting his own car repair business at 14. That technical know-how and entrepreneurial spirit would lead Ken to found A-dec in 1964, the company that would ultimately be the country’s largest privately owned dental equipment manufacturing company.
A dedicated humanitarian and community leader, Ken has personally helped tens of thousands of people in need receive dental care through his innovative products, like the Rota-Dent and TotaChair, both portable tools that allow dentists to practice in remote locations. Ken also helped spearhead partnerships between A-dec and Rotary Clubs to help get those tools into communities in need around the globe.
Though Ken was always thinking on a grand stage and working to make an impact worldwide, he never took his eyes or his heart away from his home. The Austin Family Foundation has worked tirelessly for decades to provide help and support to the residents of Newberg and Yamhill County through a variety of initiatives focused on education, addiction and mental health services. We send our thoughts and prayers to the entire Austin family as we celebrate the life and legacy of one of our community’s giants. Rest in peace, Ken. You will be missed, but your impact on the lives of so many will never be forgotten.