• Owens remembered for service, love of life

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    John D. Owens, age 49, passed away after battling cancer during the afternoon of May 18, 2017, at his home in Atchison, Kan., in the loving arms of his wife Michelle, and surrounded by their two dogs, Butters and Fly, and two cats, Thor and Loki.
    John had been a resident of Atchison for more than a decade. During the preceding decades as an active-duty service member, a Department of Defense contractor, and a Department of the Army career civilian, he and his family lived in more than 20 different locations around the world. John became a dedicated and loving husband and father very early in life and never shied away from hard work. Walking away from teenage dreams of being everything from a forest ranger to an NBA professional to a rock star, he gave up all of his time away from school, working multiple jobs at the same time to take care of his young family until he was old enough to join the Army.
    During John’s active-duty service he was presented multiple military achievement medals, multiple Good Conduct Medals, and multiple certificates of appreciation, achievement and excellence. For his service at the Fulda Gap and to the community of Fulda, Germany, before, during and after the fall of Iron Curtain, John was awarded both the Humanitarian Service Medal and Distinguished Guardian Medal from the City of Fulda.
    In 1990, John was deployed from Fort Benning, Ga., in support of Operation Desert Shield where he was later awarded the Southwest Asia Service Medal. Remaining deployed throughout the duration of Operation Desert Storm and after suffering combat injuries during his last ground offensive, John was awarded the Gold Liberation of Kuwait Medal from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
    Even though his injuries ended his uniformed service to his country, John quickly adjusted fire to gain knowledge and employment in information technology to begin work as a private DoD contractor. He soon earned what he considered to be an honor to join the ranks of career Army civilians, where he once again excelled. As an Army civilian, he earned multiple organizational, activity and command coins, awards and medals for excellence in Civil Service; and most recently the Superior Civilian Service Medal.
    He worked hard to do better each day than he had the day before. He was highly respected as an expert in his field, a determined and fair leader, and a patient mentor. The “go-to guy,” a “straight shooter,” and those visiting his office knew “The buck stops here.” His institutional knowledge was learned from the bottom up and his daily contribution is sorely missed. Because of his illness in recent months, he retired far too early from the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth’s Network Enterprise Center as chief of the Enterprise Systems Division.
    Page 2 of 2 - John was an avid animal and nature lover. He demonstrated this not only in the philanthropic and charitable actions we saw him take, but mostly by those actions few witnessed. Him sitting quiet and motionless on the floor of a forest doing nothing at all. He was a master of this silent stillness, allowing the sounds, smells, and wonder of it all to envelope him. After a bit even the wildlife would approve and settle into his presence in that place that was his home. He always found peace and wonder in nature, and that is where we will always find him.
    John was an archer and the dreams for his golden years included becoming a bowyer and designing his own line of all natural competition quality longbows and arrows for other archery enthusiasts. He loved everything about renaissance fairs and he and Michelle were season ticket holders, “Friends of the Shire”, at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. He loved live theater and music, and so they also enjoyed supporting the Theater League with season tickets every year for the Music Hall and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
    Know that John has many dear and dedicated friends and family around the world and across time who were on his mind and in his heart on the days leading up to May 18, and it would be impossible to properly acknowledge all of their love and devotion here. Their faces, their words, their kindness and their friendship will never be lost to him or those closest to him at this time. Wherever and whenever you knew him, know that he became more like himself every day.
    We will honor John June 9. Family and friends are asked to meet at Davis Funeral Chapel, 531 Shawnee, Leavenworth, Kan., by 12:30 p.m. to ride along with the funeral procession, escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders, onto Fort Leavenworth for his 1:30 p.m. memorial service at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery. His cremated remains will return home with Michelle. He will receive a final salute just after sundown that evening at Warnock Lake, 17862 274th Rd., Atchison, with a fireworks display that was presented to him as a gift by his leaders, peers, employees and friends at the Network Enterprise Center during his retirement ceremony. All are welcome and encouraged to join us.
    Special thanks to Pastor Janice Hawley of Hillside Community Lutheran Church, Davis Funeral Chapel, the Fort Leavenworth Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Office, the Patriot Guard Riders, dear friends Dan Helm and Alan Hottman for helping put together all the pieces, leadership and staff at the Network Enterprise Center, bagpiper and friend Dale Cleland, the Leavenworth and Lansing Police and Sheriff Departments, and the Atchison Fire Department.
    In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Humane Society of Atchison, the Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society or your local “no-kill” animal or wildlife rehabilitation/adoption center. Also, please consider donating to the outstanding service that the Patriot Guard Riders provide to grieving families of our veterans.
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