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Jan Van Etten Austell

KENT — Jan Van Etten Austell, 83, died at his home in Chase City, Va., on Nov. 3, 2017. 

Born April 26, 1934, in Middletown, N.Y., he was a son of the late Robert Rhett and Mary (Stivers) Austell.

A graduate of Deerfield School and Williams College, he continued his studies at Bread Loaf School of English, Columbia University and the Yale School of Drama, earning his master’s degree from Trinity College in Hartford.

Jan was a master of English and director of drama at Kent School for many years, and became chairman of the English Department at South Kent School thereafter. He taught summer school at Salisbury School and at Hotchkiss. After retiring from Episcopal School in the Philadelphia area, he became an actor on stage, as well as in movies including “Fools Rush In,” “The Last Days of Disco,” and “The Royal Tannenbaums.” Jan later acted in various television series and commercial ventures. 

 He collaborated with Kent School colleague Robert Morris in writing more than 40 readers’ guides to the great works of literature. He also wrote two hardcover books, “The Play as Theater” and “What’s in a Play?” published by Harcourt, Brace.

In Kent, Jan was a member of the Kent Volunteer Fire Department, the Kent Republican Town Committee and the Zoning Board of Appeals. 

A true gentleman, Jan was an exceptional teacher, artist, author and musician and an ardent baseball fan.

He is survived by his son, Adam Van Etten Austell and his fiancée, Emily Ann Wilson, of Chase City; his daughter, Margaret C. Austell and her husband, James Gay, of Kent; one brother, Robert Rhett Austell Jr. of York, Maine; his sister-in-law, Anne Austell of Stroudsburg, Pa.; four grandchildren, Holly and Wendell Austell of Halifax, Va., and Mark and Scott Barbaro of Kent; and several nieces and nephews.  

He was predeceased by a brother, Moses Stivers “Bub” Austell.

Private services will be held in Middletown, N.Y. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to the charity of one’s choice. Online condolences may be directed to www.powellfuneralinc.com. 

Arrangements are by Powell Funeral Home and Cremation Services of South Boston, Va.