Johnny “John” Owen

January 18, 2011 • Obituaries


Memorial services are scheduled for 10 a.m., on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011, at LaGrone Funeral Chapel for Johnny “John” Owen, 78, who passed away Jan. 8, 2011. Dr. Thomas Ramage will officiate. John was born on Aug. 29, 1932, in Roswell, to Omer and Ruthia Owen. They have both preceded him in death.

He is also preceded in death by his brothers: Donald R. Owen and Dr. Oliver E. Owen. John married Ruth Warrer on Oct. 7, 1970, in Santa Fe. She survives him at the family home. John is survived by a son: David Michael Owen, of Victoria, Texas; daughters: Debora K. Owen, of Victoria, Texas, and Susan E. Owen, of North Little Rock, Ark.; grandchildren: Logan Rogers, Julie Alvarez, John D. Owen, Michael D. Owen, Megan Bull, Sheldon Bull, and Morgan Bull; great-grandchild: Cameron Roger; sister in-law: Paula Owen, of Gladwyne, Penn. John graduated from Roswell High School in 1950. While attending high school, he became the state high school lightweight boxing [auth] champion and later the state Golden Glove lightweight boxing champion.

He then advanced to the semi-finals in Chicago as the N.M. lightweight boxing champion in 1951, while attending NMMI on a scholarship obtained from the Roswell Sertoma Club. John graduated college in 1954, from NMMI with a bachelor of science degree. John was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Armor Division. After basic armor training at Ft. Knox, John was sent to Ft. Benning, Ga., for airborne training and became a paratrooper, Ft. McClelland, Ala., for chemical warfare training, Gary Air Force Base in San Marcos, Texas, for fixed wing flight training and then graduated as a fixed wing pilot. He was sent to Fort Rucker, Ala., and graduated from helicopter training. John was then assigned to Straubing, Germany. From 1956 to the early part of 1959, John’s primary duty in Germany was to patrol the Czechoslovakian border from Passau to Nuremberg during the Cold War period between the United States and Russia. While in Germany, John obtained his commercial pilot ratings in single engine fixed wing, helicopter and instrument ratings prior to returning to the United States. John was discharged in New York on April 3, 1959. John returned to Roswell and joined the N.M. Army Reserve, flying missions for and with the reserve for approximately 10 years, and was promoted to captain during that time. John became a real estate broker, selling new homes for C.F. Smith construction Co.

He later became a partner with Charles F. Smith of C.F. Smith Construction Co., who had built approximately 600 homes over the years in Roswell. Upon the closing of Walker Air Force Base, Mr. Smith discontinued the construction of new homes. There was no longer a market for new homes as FHA and VA repossessions were piling up due to the closing of the 509th Bomb Wing of Walker Air Force Base, the missile sites shut down, the major oil companies and related businesses left Roswell along with many of their associates and employees.

Roswell’s economy changed drastically, and the real estate of fice of John Owen, Inc., was formed. He became the president of the Roswell Board of Realtors in 1965. During his Board of Realtors’ presidency, he and Mayor Gail Harris assisted in the start-up of “Retire in Roswell” program, along with VA and FHA for the handling of approximately 3,000 foreclosures when Walker Air Force Base closed.

The program helped Roswell work itself out of this problem, and became known as a good example of what could be done by other cities having base closures. John Owen received “The Realtor of the Year Award” in 1984. He became the first Certified Commercial Investment Member in Roswell and has participated in residential and commercial properties, investments and partnerships for more than 50 years. John and his wife, Ruth, primarily managed their own properties.

They have enjoyed being in Ruidoso, mainly in the summer months, for more than 20 years. John is a former member of Sertoma and Rotary International. He holds memberships in the Experimental Aircraft Association and has attended national EAA, Oshkosh, Wis. annual meetings, as well as other states’ EAA meetings. Memorials can be made to Roswell Assurance Home, 1000 E. 18th St., Roswell, National Arthritis Foundation, 5801 Osuna NE, Suite A 108, Albuquerque 87109, or the charity of your choice.

Friends and family may leave condolences online at www.lagronefuneralchapels .com. Arrangements are under the direction of LaGrone Funeral Chapel.

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