of Conway, AR
December 29, 1947 - August 1, 2013
James Carney (Jim) Owen, 65, long-time history teacher at Conway High School, passed away August 1, 2013, in Little Rock, Ark. Born December 29, 1947, in Jonesboro, Ark., Jim grew up in Conway and graduated from CHS. He played football on the 1964 Wampus Cat state championship football team and ran sprint events in track. His state record for the 220-yard dash still stands. He received many athletic awards, including the Frank Robins Award as outstanding athlete in 1965.Jim left Conway to attend the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, on a full track scholarship and earned his B.A. in History and English. After teaching at Gateway School in Little Rock, he lived in Germany for seven years, teaching history for the Department of Defense school system. Returning to Conway and CHS in 1985, he taught history, including Advanced Placement World History and AP European History. He earned a Master's degree in history from UCA.Mr. Owen taught with passion for 38 years, 28 of which were at CHS. He often opened his classes with "Greetings my wards, my lambs," and he peppered his lectures with anecdotes from his years in Europe. He inspired students of all ability levels, and the 1997 Wampus Cat yearbook was dedicated to him. In 2002, he was selected to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities summer program in London. When he retired from CHS, about 100 former students attended a school board meeting to support Mr. Owen. Often described as the "best teacher ever," he influenced thousands of students, dozens of whom became teachers themselves. Many paid respects during his last months. In 1989, the Arkansas ACLU named him Civil Libertarian of the Year for "courage in maintaining the principles of liberty and dedication to the principles in the Bill of Rights." Mr. Owen had assigned his students portions of "The Glory and the Dream." After some parents objected to the book's language and school administrators pulled it from the curriculum, Mr. Owen successfully fought against its banning.Jim was an avid hunter, fisherman, and reader. He was a loving husband and father who valued all ties among family and friends. Jim is survived by his wife of 32 years, Sherry Townsend Owen, daughter, Sarah, and son, Hunter. Also surviving are his sisters Paula Garland of Ocean Springs, Miss., Ellen Sowell (Mike) of Tulsa, Okla., his brother Wilbur (Betty) of Petit Jean Mountain, Ark., and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, W. B. , Jr. and Ruth Owen, and his brother Donald R. Owen.Memorials may be made to the Arkansas Hospice Foundation, c/o Ottenheimer Center, 14 Parkstone Circle, NLR, AR 72116, or a charity of your choice. Visitation is Sunday 3-5 p.m. at Roller-McNutt Funeral Home in Conway with funeral services on Monday at 2 p.m. at Conway First United Methodist Church. Interment will be at Oak Grove Cemetery beside his grandparents, W. B., Sr. and Olie Owen.
Jim's story in chapter 19 of Paul Smith's book lead with a story made a big impact in my life and helped me immensely in the past year. Know that his life continues to have a positive processional effect years later in other people's lives, like mine. I'm grateful. May the fond memories of Jim comfort you in times when you're feeling sad and bring a smile to your face, along with laughter when you recall happy memories. Thank you, Bill Schultz
I am sorry for your loss. Mr.Owen was the most fun outrageous teacher I ever had in High School. God be with this family in their time of loss. In JESUS name amen
My prayers are with Jim's family at this time. I graduated in 1965 with Jim from Conway High School. He was a great student and a person who truly wanted to learn even back then. He has left such a legacy with all his students and will live on forever. I am sure many will use some of his techniques if they are teachers. Both my niece and nephew had Jim as a teacher and will both say he was one of the best teachers they ever had. Sherry, Hunter and Sarah .. you should be very proud of Jim .. and know his legacy will go on for a very long time.
As hard as it is to believe, my love of reading came from Mr Owen's history class. I read more amazing books, because of his "extra credit" for reading a historical novel, then I ever did for my literature classes in High School or College! He taught that there were many ways to learn besides picking up a textbook. Mr Owen was truly the best teacher I ever had, including college.
My daughter Amanda Jones loved him so much. She always said his teaching made her love learning. He was a cool, kind, crazy, and wonderful! He will be missed by all of his students and friends. Prayers to the family.
My condolences to Mr. Owen's family. I am very sorry for your loss. He was one (only had a few) of my favorite teachers during my high school years. He was a huge credit to the teaching profession. There needs to be more teachers of his caliber.
Sherry & family,I am very sorry to hear of your loss. You & your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. "He has departed from our midst, full of years, indeed, and of glory"...
My thoughts and prayers are with you family at this difficult time. Marion Durham
Jim Owen is the first great teacher I ever had. He inspired a love for reading in me that was absolutely transformative. He'll be missed.
I am so sad to learn of Mr. Owen's passing. He was one of the best teachers I ever had, at any level of study. He was brilliant and kind, with a boundless intellect, an incredible passion for learning, and a razor-sharp wit. He is the epitome of a great teacher. He inspires me in my own career as a teacher, and I will never forget him.
Sherry, I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family have been, and will continute to be, in my thoughts and prayers.
The world is a bit dimmer with the loss of this amazingly radiant man. As a teacher he made me care about the past and more aware of the present. He taught me the word "behooves" and I laugh every time I get to use it. I had a lot of teachers but there is only one that has come up in conversations in my adulthood. I am proud to have been one of his lambs. I count myself fortunate to have known him as an adult as well and know he was the same person out of the classroom as he was in the classroom. My heart goes out to all of you.
With sincere sympathy-
Sherry, I was saddened to hear of your loss. My thoughts and prayers are for you and your family.
Jim you came into the world and made it a better for many of your students as a teacher. Now its time to rest in GOD . Rest in peace friend
Sherry, I know there are no words to make the hurt any better but I want you to know that you are in my prayers. It's been a difficult several months for your family but God is in control and He will see you through the days and weeks ahead. Jim made a huge impact on many lives and he will not be forgotten any time soon.May you be comforted through Christ who gives us strength to continue on.I love youJudy Jackson
We were blessed to have Jim teach our three children. He was a scholar ( a true educator) and gentlemen that always put his students first. Our sincere sympathy goes to Sherry, Sarah, and Hunter. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family in this difficult time.
Jim was a great guy and he will be greatly missed.
Sherry - I am so very sorry for your loss. Your husband sounds like he was an incredible man! Please know you are in my prayers. Love, Lori Hartwick
I will always remember my time in Mr. Owen's class. He was the first teacher to really make an impact on me, to teach me that it's okay to ask questions, and that it's okay to be passionate about learning. He helped shape me (and my husband, Seth) into the person I am today. I am so sad to hear of his passing, and am keeping his family in my thoughts.
Mr. Owen was a once in a lifetime teacher for thousands of students, including myself. I have always been inspired by his thoughtful answers and philosophical discussions that transpired both within the classroom and beyond. I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to have been his student. He had a truly unique gift of making his students feel like their words and opinions truly mattered, something that so many teen desperately need. He was a living legend and his legacy will live on.
Jim was a great buddy, Last time we talked was at our 25th HS reunion.we ran track together and usually think of him when I see a runner.
Paula, Wilbur and family, I was so sorry to hear about Jim today. Just found out. May God grant you all His peace and comfort. Sounds like he was a wonderful man. My heart goes out to you. Linda
What a legacy of stories about what Mr. Owen meant to his students. I am sure they all have their own personal story. My son, now Dr. Erik Young, still quotes Mr. Owen and " The Glory and the Dream" and had him in 1986. He was one of the few that the students valued and respected so much that I imagine many of them today are thinking "Oh Captain, my Captain! ".
Sherry and Family,I am so sorry. You are in my thoughts and prayers for God's peace.Martha
He was a great man who was loved by all of his students. He was a teacher that wanted his students to succeed. He taught students how to enjoy the learning experience. We will always be his "wards and lambs".
Thank you for your tutelage. We will carry it throughout our lives.
Mr. Owen was a great teacher. I will never forget being in his class. He always pushed us to be our best. I am praying for his family and friends.
Mr. Owen was one of the most interesting, memorable, and just outstanding teachers at Conway High School. He made history interesting. He will be missed.
So very sad to read the news of Jim's death.
I had Mr. Owen for two years at CHS, and he was by far my favorite teacher. He had a way of making history come alive! When it came time to apply for college, Mr. Owen wrote the most glowing recommendation. I made a copy and still have it in my high school scrapbook all these years later. Mr. Owen was a unique, one-of-a-kind individual, and he will be remembered by many for years to come.
I was blessed with having been taught by Mr. Owen! His class was one I looked forward to more than any other. I wrote down every word he said. I was mesmerized by his stories. He challenged us and prepared us. Hunter, my former student, I'm so sorry for your loss! I will be praying for you and your family! Your dad was the best!
I'm grateful that Mr. Owen was able to instill a love of history in my youngest sons; Steve, Jess and Danny.
Mr. Owen was the kind of teacher who knew what was important in the learning process. He didn't just teach a list of dates and names but how history shaped the future. I remember the long lines of parents outside his door on parent-teacher conference day because he was "so hard!" :) He expected kids to really learn. What a great guy. Our prayers are with your family today. Debi and David L. House
RIP old friend and dear "little brother".Paula Matthews
I am sure Jim's love of history will live forever through the students he inspired. A true legacy.
I will always remember Mr. Owen as a tremendously inspiring teacher, one who took genuine interest in his "wards and lambs" throughout the years. I would like to send my deepest condolences to his family and friends.
Mr. Owen will be missed. We are thinking of you guys.
My thoughts and prayers are with you all during this time. I played football with Jim and will always remember him as a very special guy!
God bless you Mr.Owen.
Mr. Owen not only taught, he entertained and inspired. His passion for history earned him a special place in the personal history of each of his students. He will be missed, but he will never be forgotten. My prayers are for his family as they mourn the passing of this man who was, truly, a teacher.
I am saddened to read about Jim's departure. We were good buddies in the early 70's. Jim will be missed by all who knew him well. His time on this earth was too short, and I will always remember his wonderful laugh.
I was privileged to have Jim as a teacher, honored to call him friend, and humbled to have had the opportunity to capture a small piece of his impact on the world in my book. Paul Smith,Author, Lead with a Story
My sincere condolences to the whole family. Thoughts and prayers are with you all. Linda Kam RN
I am so thankful that I was blessed to be in two of Mr. Owen's history classes at CHS. His teaching style helped me grow academically and prepared me for a life beyond high school. His commitment and concern for ALL students was evident. My condolences to his family and friends.
I loved him and I will miss him.Lee
Jim was a wonderful friend and we will miss him. We have so many wonderful memories- hunting, fishing, stories, campfires, yo yos, East Lake breakfasts, Supper Club dinners, and the list goes on and on. What I know most about Jim is that he loved his wife and children above all else. He was a friend that could be counted on and we loved him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sherry, Sarah, Hunter, and the rest of the family.Robert and Fadelle
Rest in peace and prayers to your family. Love Shannon loyd.
Mr. Owen touched so.many of us in ways he will never know. He was truly an inspiring force. May he rest in peace. Tami Mitchell Davis Wampus Cat Class of '86
Rest in Peace, Mr. Owen. You were one of the best, and are sorely missed.
I fondly remember your challenging class. Praying for peace for your family
Jim Owen viewed his students as treasures, for which countless former students will be forever grateful.
Mr. Owen was my most favorite teacher in high school. I had him for all 3 years in school, and was his student helper during my senior year. He enriched the lives of many, many students, and he will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. A. Hartwick - Class of 92
My deepest sympathy goes to the family of Mr. Owen. He was, most certainly, the greatest teacher EVER!
Many of Jim's former students remember how he challenged them to be better, and influenced their lives and career choices. As a classmate of Jim's at CHS, I remember how he challenged "our" teachers, and in the process gave us all a better learning experience, and some really fun times! Jim's legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of all those who knew him. My deepest sympathy to Jim's wife, children, and the entire family.
We will miss Jim's friendship! Deepest sympathy to all the family.
I am so sorry for your loss. May God be with you and comfort you at this time.
What message could possibly do justice to the memory of the great Dr, but that we have always been his wards and lambs and always will be.
The greatest teacher, person, and friend--your wit and passion for life were contagious. I will always remember you and Sheri dancing as you gazed in each others' eyes.....Love to you all.
We wanted to pay our respects to such a great man and teacher who influenced us greatly in our time at Conway High School. Mr. Owen will be greatly missed.
Sherry, Thinking of you. Susie Fox
Thinking of you all at this difficult time. We, too, rejoice in Jim's life and the influence he had on so many.
I am truly sad for your loss. Mr. Owen was so much more than a teacher to me... he was an inspiration that has continued to impact my life for decades after I was his student. He truly was the best teacher of my lifetime even through college and beyond and he will be missed. I wish I had kept in touch with him but know that my heart and my prayers are with all of his family.
My thoughts and prayers are with you. I'm sad that Jim has passed on. (You probably know me as Kaye Dickerson.). God bless you all.
Mr. Owen was a wonderful teacher and an inspiring person. Condolences to the family.
I was honored to be one of his wards and lambs. May God bring you all peace and comfort during this difficult time.
Mr. Owen was the best teacher I ever had. Future students will never know how much they lost. I am sorry for your loss.
My most favorite teacher in high school class of 2000
Rest well, dear friend. All of your students are better humans for having known you. Thank you for letting us be a part of your amazing self.
Mr. Owens will truly be missed. I had him for history and he was such an amazing teacher.
good journey and thanks for being part of mine
I was lucky to have him as a team mate, classmate and a friend for over 60 years. I will miss him as will many others. My sympathies and prayers go out to his family.