Mary Austill saved Mary F. McCrary from drowning, Spring Hill, Alabama, May 15, 1939. McCrary, 9, who could not swim, got into water beyond her depth in a swimming pool five feet from steps that extended to the bank. Austill, 9, schoolgirl, dived from a point on the bank 20 feet from her and swam to her. McCrary was frantic and grabbed Austill and wrapped her legs around her. They held each other tightly and moved a foot or two nearer to the steps, as Austill sprang up from the bottom several times. A man then swam to them and took them to the steps. 37755-3127
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Mary Austill Samford, of Opelika, Ala., died on Sept. 9, 2018, at Westminster Village in Spanish Fort, Ala., after a courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 64 years, Yetta G. Samford, Jr.
Samford was born on Oct. 21, 1929, in Mobile, Ala., the daughter of Jere and Winifred Austill. At the age of 9, she saved her friend from drowning while swimming near her home in Spring Hill, Ala., leading to her receiving the Carnegie Medal. She attended the University of Alabama and was a member of Kappa Delta sorority.
Samford was a member of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America and a lifelong active member of First Baptist Church, which she served in many capacities. She devoted her life to helping family and friends of all ages and from all walks of life. She never hesitated to welcome the stranger. Samford was known for her wonderful culinary skills and creative and artistic projects. She also will be remembered for her warm and generous hospitality to so many.
Samford was buried at Garden Hills Cemetery in Opelika.
(Edited from an obituary published in The Birmingham, Ala., News on Sept. 12, 2018.)