A stirring adventure comes to an end. On Monday, April 29, 2019, Leroy James Owen – patriot, veteran, Christian, beloved father and true friend, died peacefully at the age of 87 in the Salt Lake City home of his daughter and son-in-law, Jim and Donna Poulton.
Leroy was born on September 21, 1931, in Dillon, Montana – growing up Great Depression tough in the largest cattle shipping point on the Union Pacific railroad. He raised a lot of hell as a young man, including setting fire to the skirt of a beautiful BCHS co-ed named Claire Marchesseault. She was so offended that she later accepted his marriage proposal.
In between, Leroy enlisted in the Air Force just in time for the Korean conflict, putting his hide on the line as a gunner on a B-29 Bomber, flying relentless missions into the heart of “MIG Alley”, north of the Yalu River.
In the late 1960s, Leroy uprooted his young family and replanted it in the Portland, Oregon area, which he would call home for life. Even so, an unquenchable thirst for adventure would take him around the world for work, including a lengthy stint in Iran during the 1978-79 Revolution.
Eventually, Leroy settled in Milwaukie, Oregon with his gregarious second wife, Gretta. He was a loved and respected neighbor, marvelous mechanic and passionate gardener who nursed Rhododendrons back to life in his own yard, while volunteering time and labor to Portland’s iconic Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother.
Leroy was preceded in death by his second wife, Gretta; father, Alvin; mother, Lois; brother, Bennett; nephew, Glen; and beloved pets including Norman and Baby. He is survived by his first wife, Claire; children, Donna and Bennett; step-daughter, Patricia Irene Fleischman; two grandchildren, Christopher and Eva Owen; daughters-in-law, Barbara Owen and Sabine Baerwolff; and a nephew and nieces. We are most grateful to Rocky Mountain Hospice in Salt Lake City for their compassion and care.
A funeral service will be held at Christ the King Catholic Church in Milwaukie, Oregon on May 17, 2019, with the Rosary at 10:30 am and the Funeral Mass at 11:00 am. Graveside services with Military Honors will be held at Gethsemani Catholic Cemetery at 12:30 pm. A reception will follow, location to be announced.
In lieu of sending flowers—plant flowers—that will make Leroy happy.