Banister Funeral Home
2068 Highway 19 North
Dahlonega, GA 30533
(706) 864-4159
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John Owen

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John Owen Obituary

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OWEN, John DR. JOHN HINSEY OWEN President Emeritus of North Georgia College and State University. John H. Owen came to Dahlonega in 1970 as the 12th president of North Georgia College and State University. He served in that position until he retired in 1992. Hard work was what got the 47-year-old to such a prestigious position - he was one of the youngest, if not the youngest to be appointed to the top position in the four-year senior military college. His work ethic is also what helped him to accomplish so much at the college, and in the community. Dr. Owen was born in Savannah, Georgia, and grew up in Quincy, Florida. He died on February 15, 2011, at North Georgia Regional Hospital in Gainesville, Ga., at the age of 88. He graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. degree in three years; with highest honors. He then entered Northwestern University Midshipman School in Chicago, where he was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Naval reserve in December, 1943. During World War II he saw service as a naval officer in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, Pacific, Philippine Islands, China Sea, Okinawa, Korea and Japan. He was a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve Research Units in Gainesville, Florida, and Athens, Georgia, from 1949-1969. In 1964 he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and in 1969, he retired with over 20 years of service. In 1946 he married the former Margaret Wilson of Chicago. He entered graduate school at the University of Wisconsin where he majored in Plant Pathology and Biochemistry and earned his Master's and Doctorate Degrees. He was a Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Florida and was Professor of the Year in 1959. He later served as head of the Plant Pathology Department at the University of Georgia and then as the Director of Georgia Experiment Stations. Dr. Owen re-established the North Georgia College basketball programs in 1971. He was the biggest supporter of the teams and attended all hhome and away games. Many times he traveled with the teams on the "Blue Goose" bus. In 1974, NGC awarded the first women's basketball scholarship in Georgia. When Dr. Owen came to NGC, he immediately began working in the community. He was asked to be Chamber of Commerce President immediately upon arriving, and during his term of office he helped revitalize the square as you see it today. He also was instrumental in helping Dahlonega receive the much coveted "Stay and See Georgia" award that every small town in Georgia was working to win. Former Highway Commissioner Tom Moreland credits Dr. Owen with bringing Highway 400 to its current terminus at Highway 60 in Lumpkin County. "If it had not been for John Owen," he said, "Highway 400 would not have been constructed past Cumming." This highway now provides easy access for the thousands of tourists who come to Dahlonega each year from the metro-Atlanta area. For this and many other things he has done for the community, an intersection was named in his honor. The John H. Owen Hall at NGCSU was dedicated in his name in 2002. In addition to serving as Chamber president for two years, Dr. Owen's wide range of volunteer activities included local, state, regional and national work. He organized forums, workshops and seminars on crime and drug abuse, environmental control and tourism; provided meeting places for local senior citizens for five years until a senior center was built; actively supported the Boy Scouts of America, serving as director and Vice President of the Northeast Georgia Boy Scout Council and receiving the coveted Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in the early 1990's; served on the Advisory Panel on ROTC Affairs, and as chairman of the organization for eight years, working with congress to increase the number of ROTC scholarships from 6,500 to 12,000; served as Director and Chairman of the Georgia Mountains Area Employment and Training Council (CETA), working with county officials and industries to help train the unemployed in north Georgia; and led the Dahlonega Lion's Club project to raise funds and construct a pavilion and garden area at the local nursing home. He also served on the N.O.A. Board of Directors, was a long-time member of the United Community Bank of Dahlonega Board of Directors, and was active in Rotary and the Dahlonega Development Authority. He was an active member of the Dahlonega Methodist Church. A Celebration of his life will be held at the Dahlonega Methodist Church, Dahlonega, GA. on Friday, February 18, 2011, at 2 PM, with a reception following in the Fellowship Hall. The family will receive friends at the Banister Funeral home in Dahlonega on Thursday, February 17, 2011, from 5 PM to 7PM. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the John and Margaret Owen Scholarship Fund at North Georgia College and State University or to N.O.A.- Dahlonega, Ga. Dr. Owen is survived by his wife of 64 years, Margaret; daughters and sons-in-law Cathy and Gus Scheffer of Atlanta, Georgia, and Karen and Tommy Gormley of Lawrenceville, Georgia; and three grandsons; Michael Parsons of Carrollton, and Mitchell and Thomas Gormley of Lawrenceville. Banister Funeral Home of Dahlonega is in charge of the arrangements.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Feb. 16, 2011
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