Born December 11, 1922, in New York, NY, the Honorable Richard Owen, S.D.N.Y., died peacefully on November 20, 2015, in New York, NY. He was just shy of 93. A member of the Dartmouth Class of 1945, his undergraduate studies were interrupted for several years when he joined the Army Air Corps and served as a navigator in the Pacific during the Second World War. After returning and completing his studies at Dartmouth, he earned his L.L.B. from Harvard Law School in 1950. He relished his days as a trial lawyer, both in private practice and with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Department of Justice. In 1973, President Nixon appointed him to the federal bench, where he served for almost 40 years. Judge Owen presided over numerous notable cases, including the Mafia Commission case and a copyright infringement case against former Beatle, George Harrison, whom the Judge found to have subconsciously plagiarized the tune for "My Sweet Lord". While maintaining a full-time legal career, Judge Owen also pursued his other passion: music. He studied composition with Vittorio Giannini at the Manhattan School of Music where he later received an honorary doctorate and became a member of the Board of Trustees. He met his late wife, Metropolitan Opera soprano Lynn Owen (1933-2014), while studying music at Tanglewood, and they married in 1960. The leading lady in many of his musical works, she was the great love of his life and the mother of his three sons, Carl, David and Richard. Judge Owen went on to compose nine operas, including "Abigail Adams" and "Rain," all of which have been performed and acclaimed throughout the U.S. and Europe, including in Lincoln Center. He was also an avid sailor and a champion in several boat designs. Judge Owen touched many lives, especially as a mentor to a generation of young lawyers and law clerks. Both his musical and legal legacy live on in his sons, David and Richard Jr., and his five grandsons, Richard III, Christopher, Peter, James and Thomas. Donations may be made to the Carl Owen Scholarship Fund, Manhattan School of Music, 120 Claremont Ave. New York, NY 10027. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, December 4, at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York City.
Published in New York Times on Nov. 26, 2015.