Robert Owens

Robert “Bob” Owens, the son of John Weston and Mabel (Hanson) Owens, was born, along with his twin sister, on Jan. 14, 1927, in Jefferson, and departed this life Sept. 12 at his home in Jefferson.

He lived a full life to the age of 92 years, seven months and 28 days.

Bob and his twin sister were the youngest of 10 children born to the Owens family. The children were raised by their mother after their father died in an automobile accident when the twins were one year old.

Bob graduated from Jefferson High School in 1945 and was drafted into the U.S. Army. He trained and served as a military policeman in Germany until his discharge in November of 1946 with the rank of corporal. Following his discharge, he returned home from Germany with his childhood friends, Paul Patter and Robert Calvert. 

Bob returned to Jefferson and was employed at Baller Auto Supply. 

Bob was united in marriage to Janet Miller, of Cooper, on Nov. 6, 1949. Three children, Michael, Gayle and James, were born to this union. 

In 1953, Bob joined the Sieg Auto Supply Company as a parts salesman and the Owens family made their home in Carroll, Estherville, Clarion and Fort Dodge. After 32 years with Sieg, Bob and Janet returned to Jefferson. 

Bob was a member of Central Christian Church in Jefferson and also a member of the Jefferson American Legion and VFW. He volunteered as a greeter at the Mahanay Bell Tower for 14 years. 

In 1992, Bob became a member of the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association and helped organize the Greene County chapter. He received the Meritorious Achievement Award from the Lincoln Highway Association in 2008. Bob and Janet have one of the original concrete Lincoln Highway markers in front of their home in Jefferson. 

In later years, Bob could be seen driving his 1929 Ford Model A through Jefferson on the Lincoln Highway.

According to Bob, he was airplane crazy from the time he could look up. When he would see an airplane overhead, he would jump on his bike to ride out to the airstrip. A child of the Great Depression, he spent his free time building model airplanes. 

After his return from World War II, Bob started taking flying lessons at the Jefferson Airport. His first solo flight was in 1948.

While living in Estherville, Bob and friend Les Duoos built their own airplane — a single-seat 1964 Corben Baby Ace Model C. Bob and his brother-in-law, Melvin Miller, had their own private 1,300-foot runway at the Miller farm near Cooper.

Bob enjoyed collecting literature and photographs detailing the history of powered flight, aviation memorabilia, 1920s records and a phonograph. 

Bob is survived by his wife, Janet; daughter Gayle (Mitchell) Roberts, of Clarion; son James (Sonya), of Marshalltown; grandsons: Michael Owens Jr., of Decorah; Edward Owens, of Alaska; Robbie Baretich, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Scott Lyons, of Winona, Minn.; granddaughter Allison Rasmus, of Belmond; six great-grandchildren; sister Norma Huffman and twin sister Bonnie Duncan; nieces, nephews and relatives.

Preceding him in death were his parents; son Mike Sr. in 1996; brothers Kenneth, Eldon and Leland; sisters Treva Curry, Lois Beeson, Katherine Vincent, Gwenyth Owens, Phyllis Powell Henrikson; and brother-in-law Melvin Miller.

Funeral services were held Sept. 17 at Central Christian Church, with the Rev. Michael Armstrong officiating and Julie Cornelius delivering stories of Bob’s life.

A reading of the poem “Solo” was read. Musical selections “Going Home” and “On Eagle Wings” were sung by Gary Haupert and accompanied by pianist Rita Rasmussen.

Burial was made in the Jefferson Cemetery with full military honors conducted by the Camp Dodge Honor Detail and the Jefferson American Legion and VFW. 

Serving as casket bearers were Don Labate, James Ure, Dean Zenor, Dale Higgins, David Kingery, Chuck Elliott, John Fitzsimmons and Mark Lykke.

The Brown Funeral Home of Jefferson assisted the family.

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Jefferson Bee & Herald
Address: 200 N. Wilson St.
Jefferson, IA 50129

Phone:(515) 386-4161