Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Dean Mallory Owen

| April 2, 2024 1:31 PM

Colonel Dean Mallory Owen, 86, was born Aug. 24, 1937, in Pullman, Wash., to Frank Dean Owen and Stella Amanda (Farley) Owen in the family home located on South State Street across from the old Pullman High School. 

Dean proudly attended first through six grades at the original Franklin Elementary School in Pullman. He finished the seventh grade at Pullman High School before his family moved to Moses Lake, Wash., where he graduated from high school in 1955.

Industrious throughout his life, Dean’s first job was working for his great-uncle, Dan Farley, a landscaper, for fifty cents a day, plowing gardens using horse drawn equipment. Dean also worked harvest in both Pullman and Colfax for Al Teal on his farm south of Colfax. Dean augmented his income changing tires at Brown and Holter Chevrolet and hustling money on the pool tables at Pullman’s well known City Club and Rico’s Smokehouse. Dean had many colorful stories about his work while in college as a doorman at the old Sillman Hotel in downtown Spokane. 

Dean met Janet Grace Ohland, who would become the love of his life, during their junior year of high school. While Jan was dating another young man at the time, a persistent Dean ultimately won her affection. Jan and Dean were married Aug. 31, 1958, in the First Presbyterian Church in Moses Lake, described by Dean as the best day of his life. Dean and Jan each attended Eastern Washington State College. Jan graduated in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in education. Dean graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and was commissioned in the infantry as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army by the Reserve Officers Training Corps in 1960. Dean later received a Master of Arts Degree in History in 1973 from Kansas State University.

Dean and Jan had three children; Scott Dean born in 1959, Tina Jo in 1960 and Kevin William in 1964. The family suffered Scott’s untimely death in 1986 from leukemia while serving as a Captain in U.S. Army aviation.

In 1960, Dean and Jan embarked on a lifetime of public service with the United States Army, spending 30 years in the military. Colonel Dean Owen’s training in the military included basic and advanced infantry officer training and was Airborne and Ranger qualified. He graduated from the prestigious U.S. Army War College. In 1963, Dean attended flight school and became an Army aviator flying fixed wing aircraft and rotary wing helicopters. He was company commander with the 155th Assault Helicopter Company during his second tour in Vietnam; he also served as the battalion commander, 9th Aviation Battalion at Ft. Lewis Washington and the Aviation Brigade commander 6th Infantry Division (Light) at Ft. Wainwright, Alaska. Colonel Owen was then selected as Senior Advisor, Alaska Army National Guard. Dean was a compassionate leader, commander and soldier. Dean emotionally and infrequently described his helicopter company’s combat rescue, resupply and air assault missions in Vietnam often tearing up. The camaraderie and dedication of the soldiers of the 155th Assault Helicopter Company are evident at their annual reunion. 

The Owen family was stationed many places, making 20 moves during their 30 years in the military. These locations included Ft. Benning, Ga.; Kitzingen, Germany; Ft. Rucker, Ala.; two tours in Vietnam while Jan and the kids stayed in Moses Lake, Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.; Manhattan, Kan.; Ft. Lewis, Wash.; The Pentagon, Alexandria, Virg.; Carlisle Barracks, Penn.; Ft. Richardson, Alaska; and Ft. Wainwright, Ark.. Dean retired from active duty in 1990 at the age of 53. 

Dean and Jan settled in Fairbanks, living in their dream home, a log house, outside Fairbanks for the next 24 years. They got to know, socialize with and entertain many friends in Fairbanks. They embraced Alaska’s culture and its many outdoor activities. Shortly after retiring from the army, Dean accepted the job of rural airport manager for the State of Alaska. He flew many miles to remote villages, inspecting airfields, a job he thoroughly enjoyed. He retired from airport management but soon realized he was not ready for full retirement. Therefore, he took a position as the Executive Director of Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation. His final employment was working for Alaska Tent and Tarp where he designed and developed fabric shelters for the military, establishing many close friendships. He officially retired from the work force in 2006 at the age of 69. 

Dean and Jan were sports and outdoor enthusiasts. While fond of all sports, Dean had a special interest in baseball and football. As an avid outdoors person, he enjoyed running, hiking, hunting, fishing, handball, golf, boating and ATV riding. Dean also spent many days and nights in Alaska’s wilderness with friends. He acquired a couple of old miner's cabins located 150 miles northwest of Fairbanks, near Manley Hot Springs. He and Jan fondly named the remote site “The Estate”. This became a yearly meeting spot for family and close friends. Even in the bush there was always a 5 o’clock happy hour. 

Dean was involved with many groups and organizations including QBs (Quiet Birdmen), Rotary Club, Army Aviation Association, Association of the United States Army, National Rifle Association, National Turkey Federation, Alaska Trappers Association, Lewis-Clark Antique Power Club. Friday mornings were saved for coffee with the Palouse Tractor Guys (one of his favorites).

Dean and Jan moved from Alaska to Moscow, Idaho during 2014 to be closer to family. Dean enjoyed returning to his roots on the Palouse. He loved everything it had to offer. He often gave impromptu tours around the Palouse for visiting friends, revisiting the many small quaint towns and their cafes and taverns. He thoroughly enjoyed his time with the Lewis and Clark Antique Power Club, reliving his childhood dream of becoming a farmer. Dean never missed a chance to dine locally at places such as JackJack’s dinner, Stomping Grounds Coffee House, The HawtPlate, Grumpy’s Tavern and Hazel’s Good Eats.

Survivors include his daughter, Tina Owen, his son, Kevin Owen, his daughter-in-law, Shannon Owen, his grandchildren, Courtney (Jewett) Pack, Justin Pack, Jillian Jewett and his great grandchildren, Carter Hamilton and Brooklynn Beyer.

U.S. Army Captain Scott Dean Owen, his son, preceded him in death in 1986 as did Jan, his wife of 63 years in 2021. Dean’s two older sisters, Shirley and Barbara, preceded him in death several years ago. 

If you wish to make a donation, please do so in Dean’s name to a charity of your choice.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Short’s Funeral Chapel of Moscow and condolences may be left at www.shortsfuneralchapel.com.

    Dean Owen served as a pilot in the U.S. Army, including time in Vietnam. Over three decades, he and his family moved around the world in service to the United States.