Posted on: June 30, 2023
John A. Owen, Jr., MD, died on the morning of June 28, 2023, after suffering a series of strokes.
He was a faithful member and elder of Westminster Presbyterian Church. He was married November 29, 1952 to Wanda Earle Reamy who died February 7, 1995. John is survived by two sons, John A. Owen, III (Rachel Weissmann) of Pound Ridge, N.Y., and Ryland R. Owen (Genevieve) of Silver Spring, Md.; three grandchildren: Elias, Oona and Ellie; and a brother, Henry C. Owen of Iowa City, Iowa.
Born September 24, 1924, in Halifax, Virginia, he was the son of Dr. John Owen, a beloved country doctor in Halifax County, and Mary Carrington Owen. He was educated in local public schools and received a B.S. degree from Hampden-Sydney College in February, 1944. After Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the V-12 Pre-Medical program of the U.S. Naval Reserve and served in active duty in World War II at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia. As a physician he served in active duty at the U.S. Naval Dispensary in Washington, D.C., and during the Korean War at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Portsmouth and at the U.S. Naval Station, Guam. He maintained an active involvement as a reserve officer and retired as Captain, Medical Corps.
He received his MD degree from the University of Virginia in 1948, and was elected to Omicron Delta Kappa, the Raven Society, and Alpha Omega Alpha. He received the Raven Award in 1948 as a medical student.
His internship at Cincinnati General Hospital was followed by residency training at the University of Virginia, private practice with his father, a research fellowship at Duke University, interspersed with active duty in the Navy. Later, Dr. Owen held faculty appointments at the Medical College of Georgia and at the VA Hospital, Washington, D.C. (George Washington University) before returning to the University of Virginia in June, 1960 as Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, with research interests in diabetes.
Dr. Owen served on the active faculty for nearly 40 years, retiring as James M. Moss Professor of Diabetes and Senior Associate Dean. He was asked to stay on at the Dean’s Office until August 31, 1999. He served at various times as Co-Director of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Head of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Chairman of the Human Investigation Committee, and Vice-Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Owen became interested in drugs and drug therapy and served at various times as Chairman of the Drug and Pharmacy Committee, Editor of Pharmacy and the Physician and of Hospital Formulary, President of the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention and as charter member of the Virginia Voluntary Formulary Board. In addition to his editorial work Dr. Owen wrote several scientific papers and belonged to a number of medical organizations. He was a longtime member of the Albemarle County Medical Society and the Medical Society of Virginia, serving the latter as president from 1990-91, at which time he was also a delegate to the AMA. One of his last projects was a collaboration with Dr. Leo Falk in the publication of The Mulholland Law: A Master Mentor and his Creed, a biography of a major professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in the last century.
His hobbies included sports car rallies, poker, tennis and gardening but he always thought himself not very good at any of them. During his retirement years he wrote two self-published books, anthologies of Owen family history: Two Sisters and a Surgeon, and A Grandfather’s Graffiti. From childhood on he idolized his father and strove to be as fine a physician, but he was never sure he had achieved that goal.
After his wife’s death and his retirement, Dr. Owen continued to live at his home in Colthurst Farm and to serve on the board of the Charlottesville Free Clinic. He also spent considerable time and took much pleasure at a family summer house on the Potomac River in Westmoreland County, Va. Those who knew him best will no doubt happily recall his playful sense of humor, always eager to pose for a corny gag photo. He possessed a deep appreciation for world literature and would often utilize his vast knowledge of great books in order to deliver a unique, extremely silly and perfectly timed punchline. And always he followed the fortunes of the University of Virginia’s sports teams with great interest, relishing close victories over archrivals and celebrating championships in all sports.
There will be a visitation open to friends and family from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, July 7, 2023 at Hill and Wood Funeral Service in Charlottesville.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 8, 2023 at Westminster Presbyterian Church followed by interment at Monticello Memorial Gardens.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be donated to the Charlottesville Free Clinic and the American Diabetes Association.
WATCH our 2015 interview with Dr. Owen here.