Joseph Leo Owens

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Joseph Leo Owens

Birthplace: Holyoke, Colorado, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of William Franklin Owens and Elvira Rosetta Jane Owens
Husband of Private
Brother of Mary Rosetta Ellis; Grace Edna Diebolt; James Franklin Owens; Myrtle Owens; Bertha Rebecca Underhill and 3 others

Managed by: Philip J Fletcher
Last Updated:

About Joseph Leo Owens

Joseph L. Owens Autobiography-

Just a little resume of the happenings during my life time as I reach the age of seventy one years. I was born on October 6, 1899 in a sodhouse at Holyoke, Colorado. My dear mother's attendant was a mid wife. My father, William Franklin Owens and my mother Rosetta Elvira Jane Funkhauser Owens had proved up on a homestead at Goodland, Kansas. The hot winds and dry weather starved them out so they traveled by ox team to Holyoke, Colorado and took up another homestead. Shortly thereafter, a team ran away throwing my father from a hayrack and crippling him for life. He tried farmin for a while afterwards at Combridge, Nebraska. We then traveled by covered wagon from Cambridge, Neb, to St. Edward, Neb. Many years of my life were spent there. I had four brothers and four sisters. One sister Mertie died in infancy. We struggled along at various jobs at St. Edward. My older brothers and sister married and left home, and then our family consisted of Dad and mother, my two sisters, Grace and Mary, and myself. I was forced to leave school after finishing the ninth grade to help with family finances. I drove a laundry wagon, worked in a grocery store, and at the age of fifteen went to work in a general store.

Shortly thereafter, the manager of the Chicago Lumber Co. talked with me about learning the lumber business. That was music to my ears for he (A. P. Peterson) was my Sunday School teacher and a Christian gentleman. I worked for him for four years and my sister, Mary, graduated from St. Edward high school as valedictorian of her class and began teaching school.

I then cut loose, came to Nebraska Wesleyan Area and after paying my first quarter tuition, I had thirteen bucks in my pocket. My first year I worked at Miller & Paine department store in the afternoon then walked from Miller & Paine to University Place, got myself some bread for my dinner and then studied. This lasted my first year.

The folks were having a struggle at St. Edward, so my sister Mary and I rented a big white furnished house in University Place. Mother and Dad took in roomers and Ma and I worked at Miller & Paine and attended Nebraska Wesleyan. I worked the summer on a paving gang. Some experience. I also sang for a traveling evangelist for a few weeks, but not too successful. I couldn't get excited enough. The next year Mary taught school at Waverly, Nebraska and I finished my academy high school at Wesleyan graduating as salutatorian of my class in 1922. I then was back with the Chicago Lumber Co. at St Edward for two years and the folks and my dear sister Grace came back with me. Grace had also finished high at Jackson High School in University Place and took a job with the Electric Co in St. Edward. Mary taught school at Randolph, Nebraska. I cut loose again and came back to Wesleyan and worked at the Miller & Paine office in the afternoon. I also was manager of the Nebraska Wesleyan Year Book, Joined the Delta Omega Phi Fraternity, I also was the house manager for one year. I sang for three years with the Wesleyan Men's Glee Club and played my violin in the orchestra. I went out for track to throw the the Javelin but was a flop. The financial assistance of dear old St. Edward Banker (Aubrey A. Smith) helped me greatly financially as did also Miller & Paine. I really owe my education to good people who were interested in me. My senior year in the academy I met a wonderful girl (V Estella Parker) who later became my wife and a great help mate, and mother to our son, Wyeth Eugene, and daughter, Janet Elaine. The summer of 1926, I sold insurance for the Mutual Benefit of Omaha at St. Louis, MO. My brother Bob was an Agency Manager. I took the St. Louis prize for sales, due to some help from my brother and by working day and night. I was later offered the Pacific West Agency, but I didn't care for the business. My senior year at Wesleyan in 1927, Miller and Paine hired me as assistant credit manager, so I canceled last semester registration at Wesleyan and went to work for Miller & Paine. I served as Credit Manager for twenty four years then became General Manager and assistant Secretary Treasurer and served in that capacity until my retirement in 1962. Miller & Paine and I were recognized as the fourth store in the United States to install the Recordak Cycle Billing System. Credit World Magazine ran my picture and a detailed write up under the heading "IT WORKS".

It attracted store executives and they came from Chicago, Houston, and other cities to see the operation. I might have been with Bullocks of Los Angeles but it was during World War II, and credit managers were scarce. I wouldn't consider leaving Miller & Paine's in a lurch, and our dear Grandma and Grandma Parker alone on Greenwood Avenue. Our decision was right and the Lord has blessed us many times for it. By absentia study I graduated from Wesleyan in June 1929. Vasta and I were engaged for five years waiting for me to finish school. I phoned her of my opportunity to go with Miller & Paine. She had graduated from Wesleyan and was teaching school at Diller, Nebraska. I asked if she would sooner have a husband with a job and no degree, or one with a degree and no job. Ha Ha. Anyway, we got married on June 3, 1927, at a beautiful wedding at First Methodist Church. Her dear father (a methodist minister) married us. So that started kids getting married before finishing school. I was twenty seven years of age and Vasta was twenty five. We had twenty eight years of happy married life. We did many things of interest, vacation trips, credit conventions, church and community work, etc. I carried my responsibilities for our church and community. One of my greatest pleasures was teaching 9th grade Sunday school boys and sponsoring a 9th grade boys Y.M.C.A. neighborhood club. We took the state championship one year at a YMCA Basketball tournament. Oh boy were we proud! One of Vasta's and my great side interests was our Deer Acre Cabin at Estes Park, Colorado. How Vasta loved that place. Had she lived, that is where we would be. Anyway "Dreams don't always come true but happy memories linger on". Our son Wyeth Eugene was born on March 14, 1928, our daughter Janet Elaine on May 28, 1933. They were good children and made us proud many times. Wyeth Eugene is now a Psychiatrist and mental health director at Yreka, California. Janet is a registered Nurse. Janet married Dr. Paul Fredstrom and Paul is Vice President of Missouri Valley College at Marshall, Missouri. Gene's wife, Esther, is also a registered nurse. I have six grand daughters. Vasta did a great job as a wife, mother, home maker, rearing the children, caring for me, and using her musical and other talents in the home, church and community affairs.

In 1929, Grace was ready to get married. My sister Mary, who was married and living at Randolph, Nebraska; wrote me to see what we could do with the folks. There was a nice all modern bungalow next the home on Greenwood Ave. So we all decided that we would buy the house and all chip in for the folks keep. The depression of the thirties hit. We wondered if we wouldkeep ourhomes, but we did. My father died in Dec. 1932. My brother Bob died in1937 and left my mother financially secure for the rest of her life.Vasta's father died in 1936. We put an apartment on our house and dearold Grandma Parker lived there for seventeen years. Dear Grandma Owenslived next to us for twenty six years. Fortunately we all got along andloved each other much. Grandma Owens, about the time of Vasta's death,went to Tabitha home at the age of 89 and was well cared for until herdeath at the age of 93. Grandma Parker was aging and after Vasta's deathwent to live with her other daughter, Mrs. J. Howard Davis atPlattsmouth, Nebr. After a while she went to the Methodist home atBlair, Nebr. and died soon after. On Nov. 5, 1955 after a pleasantevening at our church covered dish dinner, we drove home and I had putthe car in the garage, I came in the house and there lay Vesta dieing ofa brain hemorrhage. Janet and I did everything possible to save her butshe was gone by the time the ambulance reached the hospital. I am not thejudge, but I say she is with the saints in heaven. The speaker system andthe belfry chimes at Fairhill Presbyterian church are a memorial by herfriends. One great memory; a few weeks before her death she happened tosay. " Joe, if I never have another thing I have had more than my share."Janet's husband, Paul Fredstrom, was in Germany in the Army so Janet andher baby daughter Susie spent six months with me before flying toFrankfurt Germany to be with Paul. What a glorious six months with Janetand Susie. I was getting along swell and had my reservation to Germany tosee Janet and Paul in Febr. 1957. A woman by the name of Geneva Andersonand I began dating, and soon we were planning to be married and go toGermany together, so I changed my reservation to Two. That was the bigmistake

    of my life and I blame no one except old Joe Owens. Two weeks afterour return we bid adeau to each other and thank God I am out of that one.Then a wonderful girl, Miss Beda Ullstrom came into my life, and afteralmost two years of courtship we were married on March 14, 1959. Iappreciate deeply the attitude of my children and Beda's relatives. Janetand Paul flew to Ames, Iowa, to participate in our wedding. Janet sangand Beda's Niece Roma Buchenau accompanied on the organ.. Wilber Johnsonand wife Jessie (Roma's Parents) drove to Ames, Iowa to the wedding andremembered us with a nice present, as did Roma and husband, Gene and hiswife, and Janet and her husband, and many other relatives and friends.Paul Fredstrom and George Buchenau added to the occasion by marking ourauto and attaching some tin cans. ha ha.  Beda and my life is filled withhappiness and fine companionship. We see and do many things together,that is the way we want it. We have had many beautiful trips such as toHawaii, New Orleans, bake Okoboji, Portland Oregon, New York State,Niagara Falls, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Nevada., Lake of the Ozarks, andof course the Black Hills, and Estes Park Colo.. We have enjoyed ourcomfortable home in Eastridge Lincoln. Beda enjoys keeping the home intip top shape, prepared delicious food, her beautiful flower garden,playing her electric organ, various activities, her many friends,watching T.V. and playing various games with me.  I sure enjoy my time athome, working in our yard, and attending various functions church etc.and doing the great American pastime eating out with Beda and our friendsand relatives. I especially enjoy our leisurely good breakfasts andreading our scripture lesson each morning. Then Beda takes me to myoffice and picks me up in the evening. Wonderful working hours 9:00 5:00 P.M. Monday thru Friday. I plan to fully retire sometime, howeverI appreciate unusual good health. I retired from Miller & Paine after 4years of service but I was ready for a change. I studied and got myBrokers Real Estate License and sold Real Estate for two years. I alsospent five years servicing loans and public relations contacts for FirstFederal Savings and Loan Association. My long weekends of Saturday andSunday are great and Beda and I make good use of them. Quite a privilegeafter six day weeks and some nights in a department store. Miller & Paineand First Federal were always so good to me. The world is loaded withgood people. Fortunately all through my life I was never out of a job. Iam at this time serving as a credit counselor trying to help people andfamilies who have become deeply involved with debts. I appreciate thecitation plaques that have come my way in recognition of service I havetried to give my fellowman and community. Such as a life membership fromthe Lincoln Chamber of commerce, also from the Lincoln and theinternational consumer Credit Associations, also the Lincoln Y. M. C. A.and Nebraska Wesleyan University. My church has at various timesrecognized the contributions of time and Financial support. I especiallyappreciate the beautiful plaques all framed and especially worded byMiller & Paine and First Federal at the time of my retirement. I lookback over my life with the ups and downs and see where I might have donebetter, but I would not be interested in trying  I just stop, look to theheavens and thank God for his goodness to in all my human frailities andstumblings. I never was financial Tycoon but I humbly believe I amfinancially secure for the rest of my life, and lived abundantly in somany ways. I typed this memorandum, so I an responsible for the typingmistakes. No one else. I hope the above scribblings have been worth yourtime in reading them.
              With my Love
              Joseph L. Owens
              426 Mulder Drive Lincoln, Nebraska.
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Joseph Leo Owens's Timeline

October 6, 1899
Holyoke, Colorado, United States