Delivered by Al Haggerty
Family and friends. I hope all of you can look upon this gathering as a celebration of the life of David Owen.
Where to start? Family? Sports? Volunteerism?
Regimental #21003, David John Owen, S/Sgt (Retired)
Yes, like those of us who served Queen and Country while wearing the Royal Red, Dave had two families. The first and most important being the one comprised of his wife and children while the second one included the many friends he had among fellow RCMP retirees.
Dave was the son of a Sheet Metal Worker, born on July 17, 1938 at Coventry, England. As a child he recalled peeking past the black-out curtains to see the search lights and anti-aircraft fire lighting up the night skies.
At the age of 7 yrs, he immigrated to Canada with his parents and brother, Kenneth.
He completed his basic education and subsequently joined the RCMP in 1958 at Edmonton, Alberta and was posted to the “N” Division RCMP Training Base in Rockcliffe, Ontario. In his naivety of youth, he did not realize that his having been enticed to join the Headquarters basketball team would not have negative consequences back at the training base. Being granted “special privileges” to absent himself from barracks on some Thursday nights when all other recruits were scrubbing and polishing floors did not place him in a favourable light with some of the instructors of the day.
During an equitation period, he managed to fall off his horse and land on his head. For this he was dispatched to the National Defense Medical Centre for diagnosis which included X-Rays. Now this doesn’t sound like a particularly exciting event but it turned out to be just that. The person who attended to him turned out to be Elizabeth McGowan, who most of us now call “Betty”.
After completing his Recruit Training, he was retained as a Troop Leader for a year before being transferred to Lethbridge, Alberta.
He participated in the RCMP Musical Ride of 1962 and was then faced with a choice. Horses or marriage! In that his mother “didn’t raise no idiot”; he abandoned the equitation life, married Betty on December 29th, 1962 and transferred to Fort McLeod, Alberta.
In September, 1965, Dave entered a three year Sociology program at the University of Alberta in Calgary. After graduation in May, 1968, he was transferred to the Manpower Planning Section of the Personnel Branch at RCMP Headquarters, Ottawa.
So what did Betty occupy her time at during those six years? Well, among other things, she added three sons to the Owen family lineage. Kevin in 1964, Terry in 1965 and Glenn in 1967.
As adults, those three men have attracted their own companions:
Kevin has Lynn with Christopher, Kaitlyn, Mitchell and Kyra
Terry has Gigi
Glenn has Pam with Kaleigh, Joshua and Zakery
Brother Kenneth – with Carole - resides in Ft. Saskatchewan, Alberta.
Of course, having graduated with a degree in Sociology, it was only natural and obvious that the RCMP should decide that Dave should become an expert in computers. So, to that end, he completed various computer courses and was engaged in the Canadian Police Information Centre until he retired after completed 21 years and 1 day of service.
He served as a computer specialist in the Department of National Defense for fifteen years until his second retirement in July 1995.
Since that date, he dabbled in a number of computer oriented activities, many of which were voluntary. Thankfully for the RCMP Veterans’ Association, many of those voluntary services were performed on our behalf. He was a “communicator extraordinaire” and referred to himself as “the dues guy” who was responsible for communicating with veterans to remind them that their annual dues were being awaited. By no means is that a highly sought-after job but he performed it magnificently and, in a positive vein, looked upon it as a means of re-connecting with old friends. Additionally, he acted as the “fan-out” communicator on behalf of the President of the Ottawa Vets and the Veterans’ Eastenders breakfast club.
How can we sum up Dave’s lifetime activities? He was an active sportsman in – at various times – softball, marathons, golf and curling . He was also an energetic but “klutzy handyman” in that every time he undertook a home repair, Betty made sure the medical card was handy and the car had enough gas to make it to the emergency ward. If he wasn’t having an argument with a chain saw, hedge trimmer or post-hole digger, he was chopping up the lawnmower extension cord into ever smaller segments.
During my youth, I recall my father observing that:
“The status of a person’s personal wealth (NOT financial wealth) can be determined by the number of persons who attend his or her funeral service.”
While I accept my father’s observation to a degree, I enlarge upon it by adding the word “quality” of the mourners to the “number”. I am sure you have all attended - or watched on television – the service for a deceased King, Prime Minister or the like where the attendees number among the most prestigious persons in public life. But does that really mean anything? In many cases those persons had never met, spoken to or had anything in common with the person being honoured.
As far as I know, there are no Kings, Prime Ministers or the like among us but I wager that not one of you is here because you have been “detailed” to attend. You – and I - knew, loved and respected David Owen or, if not him personally, then Betty and/or members of their extended family. That is what I call “quality!”
A well known and respected President of the U.S.A. once observed, “Ask not you’re your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” If there was anyone who epitomized that philosophy it was our friend David Owen but, in his case it was, “Ask what you can do”. PERIOD! I will not attempt to identify all of the volunteer and supportive activities in which he was involved during his lifetime but I’m sure that many of you know of what I speak.
Dave was a good husband, father, grandfather and friend. He made positive contributions and left us better than we were before coming into his presence. The only problem is – he left us much, much too soon.
We miss you Dave. May you be in a place where the ice is keen with positive curl, the fairways are wide and the greens are larger than the sand traps and water hazards combined.