James Owens

SHAWNEE — Jim was born in Parsons to Edward Ames and Mary Newell Owens the fifth of six children. He grew up in the First Christian Church. His family moved to Vinita, Oklahoma, in 1957, and to Bentonville, Arkansas, in 1961.

He graduated from Bentonville High School with the Class of 1964 and attended the University of Arkansas for three years before he was called to service in the U.S. Army. He served in Vietnam as helicopter maintenance E5 for two years.

While on leave from the service, he met his friend John’s cousin, April Taormina. After his military service, he married April on Sept. 25, 1971, and moved his city girl to the Midwest. Shawnee has been their home for 45 years. To celebrate their anniversary last fall, he said, “After 47 years, 49 states, 13-14 countries and a few islands on four continents, it has been a good ride. So hold on, honey, because it is not over. Happy anniversary.” Instead, at 73 years of age, he died unexpectedly after undergoing abdominal aortic surgery. April survives, and their home will continue to be open to family and friends for special occasions and just being together.

During college, Jim worked for the National Forest Service as a firefighter. His training at his parents’ Dari-O-Drive-In served him well in a future job with Zarda Dairy. He then worked for Express Scale parts and finally as an electrical technician for Offset Electrical, when he traveled the world.  

He loved the opportunities to be involved with his sons and grandchildren. He coached both of his boys’ youth soccer teams and also coached his grandson’s baseball team for a few seasons before retiring as an avid Eagles baseball fan. For himself, playing softball was a lifetime sport, and he was looking forward to the approaching summer season. He and Shawnee Mission Lake became “best friends” as he fished throughout the year. Seasonal hunts to western Kansas always brought a smile to his face. His garden was a source of pride with tomatoes and fresh vegetables for family and friends. He and April rarely missed watching KU basketball and enjoyed many cruises and road trips together.

In addition to his wife, survivors include sons, Michael (Tammy) of Overland Park and Joshua (Catherine) of Shawnee; grandchildren, Grace and Connor of Overland Park; sisters, Mary Catherine (Charles) Brown of Parsons and Peggy (Lou) DaHarb of Longmont, Colorado; brothers, Tom (Sherron) of Kansas City, Missouri, and Fred (Rhonda) of Jenks, Oklahoma; sister-in-law, Phyllis Siniscalchi of Mesa, Arizona; brothers-in-law, Joe Taormina of Benicia, California, and Dominick (Rosemary) Taormina of Albuquerque, New Mexico; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A sister, Nancy Sue Threet, and brother-in-law, Joe Siniscalchi, preceded him in death.

The family suggests memorials to Johnson County Parks and Recreation, www.jcprdfoundation.org.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Amos Funeral Home, 10901 Johnson Drive, Shawnee. Burial will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday in Resurrection Cemetery at 83rd Street and Quivira Road, Lenexa.

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