Barbara L. (Perry) Owen of 600 Commerce Drive died
peacefully with family by her side on Nov. 25.
She was born in Lynn on Nov. 6, 1921, a daughter
of the late Anthony F. Perry and Eva (Holden) Perry. During her junior
and senior years, she led the Blue Devils Marching Band. Her
high-stepping, strutting style became familiar throughout the state and
earned her the name “Leominster’s Sweetheart.” Every football game
played at Doyle Field began with the petite little fireball charging
across the gridiron, leading the blue-and-white band. Her athleticism
and charisma helped earn the band high praise and invitations to perform
throughout the state.
During this time, she met and fell in love with
the man she would spend the rest of her life with. Charles E. Owen was a
star running back and excellent sprinter for the Leominster Blue Devils.
The drum majorette and the football star made for a great love story,
and it didn’t take long for the courtship to blossom.
Mr. Owen came from a family of outdoorsmen, and it
was natural for him to introduce his wife to hunting and fishing. In
fact, she learned to handle a rifle so well that she could hit bottles
tossed into the air. The ability paid dividends on the second day of
Massachusetts’ hunting season in 1940. With Mr. Owen at her side, she
knocked down a running deer with one shot to fill her tag. An article
and photo of Mrs. Owen and her deer were featured in the Leominster
Charles and Barbara L. Owen were married on March
1, 1941. Their years together provided many unusual and exciting
experiences. In 1948, they sold their home and moved to a hunting camp
with their two young boys. With no running water, an outhouse and only a
wood stove for cooking, the couple spent the next 12 years turning a
one-room camp into a five-room home with heat and indoor plumbing.
Throughout the years, they moved many times, and
each move presented new and exciting challenges. In the mid-’60s, they
owned horses, and the Owens taught themselves how to compete at horse
shows. They both won awards and titles and participated in parades
throughout the state.
In the early ‘70s, they sold their home in
Shirley, bought an RV and headed to the East Coast. Mrs. Owen kept a log
of their travels -- from Nova Scotia all the way to Carrabelle, Fla. --
in a small notebook, and while sitting on the beach in Florida, they
couple realized they’d finally found their home. They sold the RV and
bought a home that overlooked the Gulf of Mexico. From there, they sat
most evenings to watch the lights of shrimp boats working in the bay.
And during daylight, they launched their boat from their dock and fished
for trout in the warm water.
Their remaining years were spent making new
memories and recalling old ones. They lived long enough to dance at two
of their granddaughters’ weddings and celebrate the births of 11
Mrs. Owen loved to read and write poetry. In fact,
she was quite proud that one of her poems was printed in a book for new
On Dec. 28, 2006, she lost the only man she ever
loved, and, soon after, she left the tiny Florida fishing village and
moved to Scarborough, Maine. Mrs. Owen spent the last 11 months of her
life close to her family. She made close friendships with her neighbors
and the staff of Scarborough Terrace, an assisted-living community. She
often claimed, “This is my home, and I’ve got the best view in the
place.” She looked forward to bingo games and conversations over lunch
and dinner, during which she told the stories of her many adventures
with Charlie and her two boys.
Surviving her are two sons, Wayne Owen and his
wife, Doris, of Scarborough, Maine, and Dennis Owen and his wife,
Pamela, of Leominster; a sister, Ruth McCaffrey of Leominster; five
grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Her ashes were dispersed off the coast of