Nature 39

Janet G. Owen

June 27, 1937 ~ January 15, 2021 (age 83)


Janet (Jan) Grace (Ohland) Owen was born in Walla Walla, Washington to Herman William Ohland and Martha Martina (Yates) Ohland on June 27, 1937.  She had one sibling,  William Herman Ohland.  Jan met Dean Mallory Owen at Moses Lake High School, where they became high school sweethearts and graduated in 1955.  While she spent her freshman year at Washington State College, she was drawn to Eastern Washington State College of Education to be with Dean and complete her college education.  Jan and Dean married in Moses Lake on August 31, 1958 and honeymooned at Priest Lake, Idaho.  Jan graduated from Eastern in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in Education.  Following graduation, she taught business education at Reardon High School while Dean finished his college degree and ROTC training.

Dean was commissioned into the United States Army in 1960.  Together they embarked on a lifetime of service to the United States Army.  Jan and Dean were a steadfast partnership, giving 30 years to the military and enjoying 63 years of wedded bliss.

Jan and Dean had three children, all born in Moses Lake, which was very unusual because their military career took them through all 50 states with the exception of Maine and to over 17 geographical locations and multiple residences, they called home.  Scott Dean, their first child, was born in 1959; he predeceased his mother in 1986.  Scott was soon joined by his sister Tina Jo, in 1960.  They greeted Kevin William; the youngest sibling born in 1964. 

Jan was the consummate stay-at-home mom, homemaker and military wife with countless duties essential to these titles.  She performed her duties with grace, enthusiasm and boundless energy.

Most precious to her was her family, whether as mom, grandmother or great-grandmother.  She didn’t miss a sports event, a recital, a play or a boy scout or girl scout meeting.  We were very lucky to have her at home, holding down the fort.  Jan was a wonderfully capable “mom and dad” while Dean spent two tours in Vietnam.  She was a strong, patient and caring woman providing for her families’ every need while Dean was overseas.  Later in life she was enamored with her grandchildren and great grandchildren sharing her many cooking and baking secrets with them.   

Cooking was at the heart of Jan’s affection for family and friends, serving up one good dish after another.  Her cooking skills were matched by her social skills.  An accomplished host, Jan was a marvelous event planner and loved any excuse to throw a party.  She enjoyed entertaining, even on a moment’s notice for those late evening gatherings when Dean would bring home his command group for dinner or late-night waffles and eggs!  Jan was always there, happy to accommodate the needs of the command.

Jan was totally involved in all things military.  She even went so far as to attend Air Assault School for wives and partners in Fort Rucker Alabama.  Jan was the ultimate mentor; a rock for many military families, taking care of others when they needed it the most.

As a PEO member, Jan enjoyed a warm relationship with many women in her community.  An avid bridge player, regular bridge games were another component of her numerous community connections.  Monthly birthday luncheons and Friday night dinners were social highlights during Jan and Dean’s Fairbanks years and always provided a good time filled with laughter. 

Jan loved Alaska!  She and Dean spent a total of 26 years in Alaska, 4 years on active duty and 22 in retirement in Fairbanks.  They did everything Alaska, from going to Nome to see the end of the Iditarod to an annual halibut/salmon fishing trip with good friends, a trip that often doubled as a whale watching junket.  Jan loved to show visitors around Alaska whether escorting trips to Denali National Park or outings on the paddle boat Discovery up the Chena River.  The family spent many happy hours at their “shack” north of Fairbanks in the gold mining area of Eureka.  Each year family would gather for the annual trek to the shack, fondly known as the “estate”, to rough it and explore the interior of Alaska on 4-wheelers and sometimes on foot.  It was a week of good food, good drinks and many stories told by the fire. 

It was not an easy decision for Jan and Dean to leave Alaska and head for the lower 48 to be closer to family.  In fact, Jan would have stayed in Alaska if it hadn’t been for the tug of family and the familiarity of her Eastern Washington roots in the Palouse. 

Jan is survived by her husband and best friend of 63 years Dean, her daughter Tina, son Kevin, his wife Shannon (Moser) Owen, grandchildren Courtney and Jillian and great-grandchildren Carter and Brooklynn.  Jan is also survived by her brother Bill and his children, Tana (Ohland) and Doug Boole, Curt and Debbie Ohland and Dusti Ohland and his grandchildren, DJ and Justine (Wiggins) Ohland, Darby, Austin, Carson and Delaney Ohland.  If you desire to make a donation in Jan’s name,  we favor any of the veterans’ charities such as The Wounded Warrior Project, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America.  An alternative charity of choice is The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. 

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