William Donald Owens
William Donald Owens was born in Iowa Park, Texas, on November 25, 1936, to William Mitchell and Jessie Mae George Owens. He grew up on his father’s oil leases near Electra until the family moved to Iowa Park when Don was in high school. After graduating high school as Iowa Park’s valedictorian, he studied performance organ at Midwestern University under Dr. Nita Akin. He graduated from Midwestern in 1959 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music. He was also a member of Midwestern’s ROTC program and joined the United States Army as a First Lieutenant after graduation. He served 20 distinguished years and completed two tours in Vietnam.
On August 24, 1968, he married Sarah Jane Waters. The couple moved to Virginia, where Don was stationed at Ft. Belvoir. Over the next 20 years, army life would take the couple and their three children to Ft. Bliss, El Paso, Iowa Park (while Don was serving in Vietnam), back to Ft. Bliss and later to Norfolk, VA and Washington D.C. At the peak of his military career, Don served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 1980, after the loss of his parents, Don retired from the army and moved the family to Iowa Park. He joined his brothers Gene and James in running Owens Oil Company. The brothers successfully supported their three families thanks to hard work, good management and integrity. The Owens boys enjoyed the respect and admiration of their fellow oil field men.
Music was a vital part of Don’s life. He played the piano, organ and harpsicord. He played the organ at First United Methodist Church in Iowa Park for approximately 15 years. After retirement from the oil field business, he played organ on a volunteer basis at various local churches, including FUMC Iowa Park and FUMC Wichita Falls.
When the family moved to Wichita Falls in 1989, Don became interested in the MSU Carillion, the instrument he had learned while an undergraduate at Midwestern. He discovered that the unique instrument (one of only ten in Texas) was in a state of grave disrepair. For years he tinkered and repaired until the instrument was restored to playable condition. In 2002, MSU benefactors Bruce and Graciela Redwine donated funds for a complete restoration of the carillon and the Hardin tower. Don and Jane contributed to the restoration by purchasing a bell and by organizing fellow members of the Texhoma Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America to play community concerts.
Don will be remembered by family and dear friends as an immensely talented yet humble man, devoted to his family and service to his church and community through his love of music.
Don is preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Thomas Eugene and Richard George. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Sarah Jane, and his brother James Mitchell; his daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Butler, of Wichita Falls, her husband Bill, and their sons William Allen and Owen Andrew; his son William Richard of San Antonio, his wife Sherrie, and their children William Wesley and Emma Claire; and by his daughter Mary Catherine de Souza of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, husband Duncan, and children Connor Joseph, Miles Christopher, Caroline Grace and Laura Elizabeth.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of Wichita Falls. The family would like to thank the nurses, aids and care workers of the Azalea Suite of House of Hope. The family also appreciates the wonderful care of the Hospice of Wichita Falls team assigned to Don during his final days.