Alan Owens, 75, passed away peacefully on February 14th, with his loving family by his side. Born on June 19, 1944 in Glendale, California, to R Rayfl Owens and Laura Cossey Owens, Alan was the oldest of six siblings. The family moved to Salt Lake in 1946, where Alan excelled in school and sports. He loved playing church basketball and with his unstoppable fade-away jumpshot, was a threat to score as soon as he entered the gym. He attended South High, where he participated on the track team and earned a prestigious Sterling Scholar Award and the coveted national Bausch & Lomb Science Award for academic excellence in science. In his spare time, Alan found joy in raising Birmingham Roller pigeons, often participating in competitions to see his birds perform. He also really enjoyed spending time with his siblings and cousins down in Joseph, Utah, and going on the annual deerhunt with his brother, Bill, his father, R Rayfl, and various uncles and cousins. After graduating from South High in 1962, Alan attended the University of Utah for one year before being called to serve an LDS Mission in Frankfurt, Germany. Upon completion of his mission, Alan returned to school for a short time before being drafted into the Army and serving honorably in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970. He possessed a unique combination of sharpshooting skills and analytical abilities that made him an extremely important asset to the teams to which he was assigned. Upon his return to the States, Alan completed his studies in history at the University of Utah. Realizing that his love of history would likely not provide a means of living, Alan took advantage of his analytical skills and enrolled and graduated from the computer science program at Utah Technical College. He began his career as a computer operator at Sperry Univac in the mid-1970s, where he quickly progressed to the position of senior software engineer and became the go-to for all problems that no one else could solve. Alan was asked to travel to Germany to help Lufthansa install and test their software, which they still use today.
Alan met the love of his life, Mary Jo Cafarelli, when he asked her to dance at The Crow’s Nest. The rest was history. They married on August 30, 1974, and had two sons, Nathan and Daniel. Alan loved spending time with his boys, passing on his love for basketball and spending hours and hours in the driveway with them, shagging shots and practicing drills. He coached Daniel’s basketball team at St. Olaf’s Catholic Elementary School, helping to guide them to multiple undefeated seasons. He attended every basketball game his boys played, often shuttling them around to multiple games each day. Alan loved being involved in all of his sons’ activities and coached many of their t-ball and baseball teams as well. He had fun wrestling with the family dog, Oscar, and playing with Oscar, Nate, and Dan. Alan also enjoyed sharing his love of learning with his boys. He would spend countless hours lying by the fireplace with Nathan, teaching him math and science skills that would put him far ahead of his classmates. He would also recite poems, speeches, and anything else he was memorizing at the time, to his boys on their daily drives to school. Alan was an encyclopedia of knowledge, yet incredibly humble and soft-spoken.
A highlight for Alan each year was traveling to the Owens Family Reunion in Panguitch, Utah. He enjoyed spending time with his extended family, hiking up Cooper’s Peak and fishing at Panguitch Lake. Alan loved the outdoors and his favorite place in the world was Hebgen Lake, Montana. He loved traveling there with his wife and boys, waking up early and heading down to the banks to cast a line out and wait for a big brown trout to come by and take it. He would sit there for hours at a time, tending to his pole while reading his favorite Stephen King or Dean Koontz novel. When his boys became old enough, he also enjoyed fly-fishing on the Madison River with them. He found a great deal of happiness and comfort over the years playing with the family dogs, beginning with Oscar, followed by Jessie, and then ending with Austin and Gage. He now joins them all again in heaven, where they can play once more.
Alan retired from Sperry (later Unisys) in 2001, after nearly 30 years. He then began pursuing his love of writing. Alan wrote and published multiple books, from fictional western stories to autobiographical accounts of his life. He drove his family crazy, often waking up in the middle of the night and running to his computer to capture whatever idea had popped into his mind. He would remain at his computer for hours, enthusiastically writing page after page, his body not able to keep up with his mind.
Alan is survived by his wife, Mary Jo, his two sons Nathan and Daniel, his six siblings, Janice Pyper (Paul), Judy Hopkins (Marty), Vicki Lamothe, Bill Owens (Linda), and Sally Aulakh (Kamar), and his mother-in-law Katherine Cafarelli.
His wife and sons would like to acknowledge and thank the medical staff at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Salt Lake City, who showed him respect and grace in their care for him over many years.
Friends are invited to Celebrate Alan’s life on Wednesday, February 19th from 6:00 until 8:00 PM at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City. He will be laid to rest at the Utah Veteran’s Memorial Park.
Please check back soon: tribute video slideshow forthcoming.