Born and raised in Iowa, Joseph Riley Austin was a graduate of the Marshalltown school system. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Coe College, Cedar Rapids in 1961. Joe was Student Body President, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. An active alumnus, he served on the Coe College Presidents Advisory Council and was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1976-1985. He was committed to Coe College in many ways and continued to be an active donor.