Louis Owen, a Tyler businessman, philanthropist and long-time supporter of the Diocese of Tyler, died on Wednesday morning in Tyler. He was 82.
Bishop Joseph E. Strickland will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial for Owen on Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 11:30 a.m. at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Flint, with internment to follow.
The family will greet visitors on Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at St. Mary Magdalene and a Requiem Mass for the family and members of the parish community will follow, celebrated by Father Timothy Kelly.
“I have learned the sad news of the passing of my friend Louis Owen. I have know Louis and Peaches for many years and they have always been the epitome of what we hope a Catholic family will be: committed, faithful and joyful in encountering all that life brings,” said Bishop Strickland from World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland.
“I know the passing of Louis is a sadness felt most deeply by his dear wife Peaches and their children and family. Louis has faithfully and generously served the Church and the wider community in more ways than can be counted, and he has always done so with genuine humility with Peaches at his side. As the family mourns, I assure them of my prayers and the loving support of all their friends in the diocese and beyond. May Louis rest in peace in the balm of the Lord’s mercy.”
Along with his life-long involvement in ministries at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and St. Mary Magdalene, Owen previously served on the Diocesan Finance Council and as a board member of Catholic Charities East Texas. He was a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.
The Catholic East Texas highlighted the Owens’ work in this 2008 profile (click for larger versions):
The following is from Thursday’s Tyler Morning Telegraph:
To celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary in 2010, Owen and his wife, Peaches, donated $18 million to allow Christus Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics to build a seven-story heart hospital. The couple saw their wealth as something to be shared and stewarded.
“It was a godsend to us and we wanted to spread it around to the appropriate places,” Mr. Owen once said. “We worked hard, but we didn’t do anything to earn what we ended up with. We’ll just give most of it back. We are our brother’s keeper, and we have to help each other every way that we can.”
“Tyler has lost a person with a tremendous heart, who cared for the needs of the people of East Texas,” she said Thursday. “I had a chance to know and work with Louis, and I was always very aware that it’s important to him that the resources the Owen family had be used to make a difference. It was certainly demonstrated in the Heart Hospital, but also countless times in the giving from the Owen Family Foundation, which made large and small gifts to many, many organizations. The grants that mattered the most to Louis were the ones that helped people who were hurting the most.”
That’s the Louis Owen who the Rev. Jerome Milton knew. He first became familiar with Louis Owen during the Hurricane Katrina crisis in 2005, when many, many families came here from New Orleans.
One family that arrived in Tyler included an ailing 14-year-old boy. When that youth died, Milton again reached out to Owen for assistance.
“What that family was going through was just unimaginable,” Milton said. “To have lost everything, then losing a beloved son. But Louis was able to provide some relief to that family.”
Scott Fossey, of the Christus Trinity Mother Frances Health System, called Owen “one of the greatest friends our organization has ever known.”
“As those of us who were lucky enough to care for Mr. Owen during his time as a patient or who had the pleasure of working with Mr. and Mrs. Owen throughout their many years of kindness and philanthropy can attest, Louis Owen was a kind and generous man whose passion for helping to heal those around him mirrored the mission of this organization and the ideals we strive to embody each day,” Fossey said in a statement. “Though few of us at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Health System had the chance to know Mr. Owen personally, we are all a part of the wonderful legacy that he, along with his wife, Peaches, has built as part of this organization and this community.
“His kindness, faith and dedication to making this life better for all of us will be deeply and truly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Owen family during this difficult time.”
Mr. Owen married the former Marie “Peaches” Gonsoulin on Sept. 3, 1955, at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Houston. They met in high school and married while he was a student at Rice University. Mr. Owen worked for Tenneco Oil Co. in Atkins and McBride & Owen Engineering. He worked for Petrofac Inc., and served as vice president, president and senior vice president of that company.
Owen is survived by his wife and three children, John and his wife, Rebecca, of Tyler; Louis Paul and his wife, Teresa, of Whitehouse; and Celeste Rekieta and her husband, Bob, of Lakeville, Minnesota.