John Jerauld Owen "Jack" John Jerauld Owen "Jack", 96, The University of Virginia's first Vice President for Development, died on Saturday, November 17, 2012, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
He was born at The Presidio, California, on February 21, 1916, to Colonel Leartus J. Owen, MD, and Ethel Christine Rogers Owen. The son of a career Army surgeon, Jack as a boy moved with his family around the country, including Hawaii. In 1932, the family settled on a farm in Charlottesville, Virginia. Jack attended the Episcopal High School in Alexandria and the University of Virginia, where he graduated with honors from the Engineering School in 1939. He was bicycling in Europe with his brother, David, when World War II ignited. Upon returning home Jack entered the engineering training program with Westinghouse Electric in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In January, 1941, before the United States entered the war, he enlisted in the Army as a private, and reported to Aberdeen Proving Ground. After completing Officer Candidate School, he became an ordnance officer on General Omar Bradley's staff and served in England and Europe. In recognition of his meritorious service during and after the war, he received the Bronze Star and was made a Knight of the Order of the Oaken Wreath of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. He was discharged as a Major in 1946. Jack returned to Charlottesville to support his ailing father and worked as an engineer at the Institute for Textile Technology from 1946 until 1950. At the outbreak of the Korean War, the Army recalled him to work at the Pentagon. In 1951, Jack married Helen (Apple) Bissell Dobie, and they moved with Apple's two young daughters to Greenfield, Massachusetts. There, he joined the Millers Falls Tool Company. Over the next decade, he progressed from the engineering department to become company president. In 1966 he left Millers Falls to embark upon the career that would become the passion of the rest of his life. Building upon his 25 years of experience at all levels in the corporate world, Jack turned to the profession of connecting corporate and individual resources to the needs of schools and colleges. In 1966, Frank Boyden, the headmaster of Deerfield Academy, invited Jack to conduct a capital campaign which he successfully completed in 1968. Then he joined Yale University to serve as Director of Corporate Relations from 1969 until 1971. Next, Jack moved to the University of Connecticut Foundation from 1971 until 1975, where he continued to interest private corporations in the support of academic excellence, but now in the context of public higher education. With this solid preparation, Jack, a third-generation University of Virginia graduate, accepted University of Virginia President Frank Hereford's invitation to serve as the University's first Vice President for Development from 1976 until 1981. Under his direction, the University launched and successfully completed its initial University-wide capital campaign. After mandatory retirement in 1981, Jack remained as a consultant in the development office until fully retiring at age 70 in 1986. In the years following, Jack continued to connect donors to various projects at University of Virginia, and received the Raven Award for these efforts in 1994. His last major project was to secure funding for the digital archiving of the glass plate negatives of Rufus Holsinger, a Charlottesville photographer of the early 20th century. Jack was a member of the Raven Society, the IMP Society, and the Seven Society. In addition to supporting University of Virginia, Jack pursued landscape design, woodworking, and the craft of Nantucket basket weaving. His gifts for designing, building and repairing almost anything (life size hobby horses, fountains, the University of Virginia ceremonial mace) brought him much praise and scant repose. He and Apple delighted in entertaining, travelling, and creating a summer camp for their grandchildren. When Apple fell ill with leukemia, Jack was her tireless and loving caregiver until her death in 1996. He was active throughout his 80's, and remained in his home until he moved to Martha Jefferson House, Charlottesville, at age 93. Jack's life was a living history book for his family. All ages loved hearing stories of the many events he witnessed first-hand, from his visit to the first traffic light in Boston, to bringing the cream into Charlottesville with horse and wagon, to his crossing the beaches of Normandy after D-Day. He exuded Southern charm and delighted in making friends and connections across many walks of life and cultures. His family wishes to express their gratitude to his Charlottesville neighbors over 36 years, to the Martha Jefferson House staff, and to the Hospice of the Piedmont. We are also grateful to his physician, Joyce Geilker, his friend, James Winkey, and his final caregiver, Arlene Harvey. Jack is survived by his children, Julia Rea and her husband, Samuel, of Arlington, Virginia; Elizabeth Rogerson and her husband, Edward, of Milton, Massachusetts; Christina Stahl and her husband, Gary, of New York, New York; and Charles Owen and his wife, Deborah, of Charlottesville, Virginia; and his sister-in-law, Eleanor A. Owen of Towson, Maryland. He is also survived by his seven grandchildren, Alice Rogerson, Catherine R. Hogan, Julia P. Owen, John J. Owen, Carter B. Owen, Peter D. Owen, and Stephanie H. Owen; and by his great-grandaughter, Hadley E. Rogerson-Leach.
In addition to his wife "Apple", Jack was predeceased by his brother, David R. Owen; and his son, John D. Owen. A memorial service for family and friends will be held at 1 o'clock on Saturday, December 15, 2012, at the University of Virginia Chapel in Charlottesville. Interment will be private. Gifts may be sent to the Owen Family Fund at the University of Virginia, c/o The UVA Fund, P.O. Box 400314, Charlottesville, VA 22907-4314.
This obituary was originally published in the Daily Progress.