Clarence E. “Gene” Owens was born Friday, August 15, 1930 to James Thomas and Ida May (Cooper) Owens at Dunbar, Nebraska. He was baptized in the Presbyterian faith. His early education began in the public school at Wahoo Elementary, graduating from Wahoo Public High School. He played four years of football on the high school squad. Gene went on to complete two years of college, one year at Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln and a year at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Most people probably didn’t realize that he excelled in math and chemistry.
Gene’s incredible work ethic began early in life. At the age of ten, Gene and his friend rode the dray line, picking up garbage and collecting metal for the war effort. Gene worked various jobs each summer, such as house painting, working for a family grocer and doing steel construction work on the new Highway 77 project south of Wahoo in the 1940s.
Gene was united in marriage to Kathryn Miller September 27, 1950 at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Wahoo, Nebraska. That was the same year which he began working for Safeway in Wahoo. He was sent to Fremont, Nebraska in 1960 where he served as produce manager. He worked his way up the ranks, serving as assistant manager at Central City, Nebr., becoming manager in Omaha, Nebr., returning to Central City as the manager of a new Safeway store, then to Ames, Ia. and lastly Lincoln, Nebr. both locations as manager for Safeway. He had the opportunity to purchase his own grocery store business in Tyndall, SD in 1968 where he worked until his retirement in 2000. Although he was the boss, it was not uncommon to see him stocking shelves, running the register, bagging and carrying groceries to the customers’ vehicles.
Gene and Kathryn were blessed with two daughters, Elizabeth Ann and Mary Catherine. Gene was an avid hunter and trapper. He was very involved in trap shooting where he sponsored a team which won many trophies over the years. His love of collectibles included photos of he and his hunting buddies with their game, coins and antiques, which Kathryn also enjoyed. Each year his garden grew bigger and better, resulting in beautiful, delicious tomatoes and other produce.
Gene’s personality was always happy, funny, helpful and kind. He wished to please each and every customer who walked through the door. He was tickled whenever little kids would come in the store and holler “Hi Gene.”
Gene was a faithful Cornhusker fan and a generous promoter of the Nebraska football team. He served 12 years in the US Navel Reserves, was a 10-year member of Toastmasters and a 20-year member of the local Rotary Club. His compassion and willingness to serve the community never failed as he assisted the FFA with their annual fruit sales along with support for the Boy Scouts and the chamber of commerce.
Gene passed away Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at Good Samaritan Society, Tyndall, at the age of 90.
Left to mourn his loss are his wife of over 70 years, Kathryn Owens of Tyndall, SD; daughters Elizabeth Ann (Douglas) Ludens of Scottsdale, AZ and Mary Catherine (James) Medeck of Colorado Springs, CO; granddaughters Sister Mary Bethel MC (Ludens) of Bronx, NY and Kristen Marie Medeck of Colorado Springs; grandson James Ryan (Kindra) Medeck of Colorado Springs; great granddaughters Phoebe Grace, Abigail Reese and Madalyn Sophia; sister-in-law Maureen Syverson Breunig of Wahoo, NE; brother-in-law Donald (Peggy) Miller of Grand Island, NE and many nieces and nephews.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents James and Ida May Owens; brothers Marvin Owens (in infancy), Huile Cleo (Louise) Owens and Royd Dewayne (Norma) Owens; sister Doris May (Eugene) Solberg; father and mother-in-law Morris and Edith Miller; sister and brother-in-law Shirley and Bill Lorenz and brother-in-law Donald Syverson.
Memorials may be directed to the family at this time, as they reflect on which charities to donate to, in Gene’s memory.