James Rigueur Owens, Jr.
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AGE: 89 • Upper Deerfield Township
James Rigueur Owens, Jr., age 89, of Upper Deerfield Township, died unexpectedly at home on Monday, December 9, 2013. The son of James Rigueur and Katharine Young Owens, he was born in Memphis, TN on November 30, 1924.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Caroline Mulford Owens, and their three children: Cecile Owens Plattner of Greenville, NY; Elizabeth Owens Wakefield of McLean, VA; Jonathan James Owens of Pleasantville, NY; and seven grandchildren. He is also survived by a sister, Julie Owens Sanderson Lyman of Essex, CT, and was predeceased by a son, James Bowie Owens.
A 1942 graduate of Western Reserve Academy, Hudson, OH, Jim entered Yale University in 1942, served in the Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1945, and then returned to Yale and graduated as a political science major in 1948 with the Class of 1945W. While at Yale he was a member of the championship Yale Swimming Team, earning a varsity "Y."
While in the service, Jim piloted a B-17 bomber, and was stationed in Eye, East Anglia, England. He and his crew flew 20 missions over Germany plus several humanitarian missions including a food drop in the Netherlands and the return of POW's to Paris. He was not yet 21 when he was discharged in September 1945.
Following graduation from Yale, Jim entered the textile fibers industry, working for Burlington Industries and then joining the DuPont Company in Wilmington, DE and New York City. Later he was self-employed as a consultant with Textile Marketing & Development, working with textile companies in India. He lived in Wilmington, DE, New York City, and settled in Westport, CT for 38 years.
An avid choral singer, he sang for a dozen years with the Berkshire Choral Festival, Sheffield, MA and toured Russia and Great Britain with the Yale Alumni Chorus, singing with several notable conductors including the internationally acclaimed Valery Gergiev. He also sang with the Y's Men chorus in Westport, CT and the Trinity Chorale at Trinity Episcopal Church, Southport, CT, performing several times at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Charlie Walker.
Since moving to the Bridgeton area in 2003, Jim has been an active member of the Bridgeton Luncheon Rotary, where he was a Paul Harris Fellow; St. Andrew's Episcopal Church; and the Advisory Board of the Millville Army Air Field Museum. During the past year, he participated in living history presentations about World War II for high school and community groups, providing audiences with a personalized account of that world-changing event. On December 9 he was posthumously awarded the Preservation of American History medal from the Greenwich Tea Burning Chapter of the DAR.
Friends and relatives are invited to attend a memorial service at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 186 East Commerce Street, Bridgeton, on Saturday, December 21 at 11:00 a.m. The church will be open beginning at 10:30 a.m. for a period of musical meditation and an opportunity to view scenes from Jim's life. The interment in Overlook Cemetery will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes memorial contributions in Jim's name to the Bridgeton Rotary Club Foundation, 122 Rosedale Drive, Pittsgrove, New Jersey 08318 or the Millville Army Air Field Museum, 1 Ledden Street, Millville, NJ 08322. Written condolences and tributes may be sent to the family through the Freitag Funeral Home web site at freitagfuneralhome.com.
Published in The Daily Journal on Dec. 13, 2013