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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wm G Owsley's Obit.

Here is my father's obit, I am not sure who wrote it but it looks like, his widow, Rebecca, writing style. It sums up nicely a well spent life.

William Gardner Owsley, 83, passed away peacefully at 4 o’clock Sunday, January 27, 2008, without regret, surrounded by family, at his Point Lookout home near Au Gres, Michigan .

Bill, also known to some old friends as “Owl,” was born July 28, 1924, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to Merritt Miner Owsley, a Montana born-rancher in Mud Lake, Idaho, and Ada Heath Owsley, of Ionia, Michigan.

Bill returned to Ionia with his mother to enter school, often summering in Idaho and working with his dad. He graduated from Ionia High School in 1942. At I.H.S. he was a member of the track team, and as captain of the struggling football team once inspired his teammates by playing most of the game with a broken collarbone (they lost anyway).

He entered University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he completed his first year of college as a philosophy major before joining the Marines in February 1943, spending most of his World War II service as a radio operator in the Pacific Theater. He served for a time with a member of the Navaho “code talkers.” He never forgot the Morse code he learned and used, and often amused children and friends by tapping out their names or funny phrases.

After his discharge at the end of the war, he returned to the University of Michigan, where he was a member of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. In 1947 he married Marjorie Rutherford, of Lansing. Upon earning his undergraduate degree, Bill and his new wife took the accumulated savings from his service years and spent a year in Paris, France, hanging out with other Americans in Paris (including Art Buchwald and William Styron), and soaking up European culture. After returning from France, Bill embarked upon a program in Fine Arts, studying art history and painting, completing a master’s degree in Fine Arts in 1953.

Daughter Margaret was born in 1950, and son Scott was born in 1955 after Bill began teaching at Monticello College in Alton, Illinois. He later taught one year at Berea College, in Berea, Ky., before beginning his career at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, teaching more than 30 years in the architecture department. Daughter Lucy was born in Oxford in 1963.

To family and friends, his students, colleagues, total strangers, and especially children, Bill was a storyteller, playmate, mentor, challenger, talker, animal lover, and first, foremost and always, a teacher to all. He was a prolific painter, and continued to create and show his work throughout his life. In all his relationships, he guided individuals to discover the delight in their own creativity, of whatever sort. In addition to his classes in the architecture department, Bill taught several large sections of a popular art survey course to thousands of students. This meant that eventually Bill encountered former students everywhere he went, all over the world.

In 1971 Bill married Rebecca McNamara, bringing together his children and her son Stephen and daughter Heather (and two dogs, three cats, a couple of gerbils, a tank of guppies, a newt, and ultimately a horse) and sharing an historic 1867 house that was perpetually under restoration. Summers were spent at Point Lookout in the AuGres area, near where Bill always had vacationed as a youth with his family. In 1964, he purchased the property that would become his home after retirement in 1989.

Although he traveled extensively during these years, it was at Point Lookout where he and all the family always returned and felt most at home. The open-door policy at Point Lookout welcomed dozens of visitors over the years, from friends of the children and grandchildren to former students to fellow travelers and former colleagues and neighbors.

The last decade of Bill’s life was spent cultivating his pleasures and passions, old and new. He re-built the family cottage to include the heart of the original structure which housed so many memories, and to accommodate new experiences as well. The rooms were never big enough to hold all the books, but always big enough to hold everyone who wanted to be there. He loved summers swimming and sailing Lake Huron, and quiet winters of cross country skiing around the Point. Did a summer day ever arrive on the beach at 4 p.m. when he didn’t say, “Well, the sun’s over the yard-arm somewhere. Can I get anyone a beer?” He loved the walks, and the woods, and the sounds of the wind across the water, his family and friends and continuing interest in ideas. He loved life. He only half-jokingly requested that his tombstone inscription be, “Lucky Guy!”

He is survived by his wife, Rebecca, his children Margaret (Richard) Marting, Scott Owsley, Lucy Owsley (Eugene) Goodman, Heather McNamara (Greg) Seaman, and Stephen McNamara, and grandchildren Caroline Marting, William Marting, Coolie Calihan, and Brenna Seaman.

Visitation with family members will be 2-5 and 7-9 p.m. Friday at R.O. Savage Funeral Chapel, Standish. There will be a memorial service Saturday at Grace Episcopal Church, Standish.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests those wishing to make a memorial donation consider The Point Lookout Memorial Fund or the Miami University Art Museum Sterling Cook fund.


Robin said...

This is very nice. Obviously e was a wonder person. I'm sorry for your loss and hope there's some consolation in knowing that he lived his life well.


winedeb said...

Lucy, so sorry to hear about the loss of your wonderful father. What a great recount of his glorious life.

coles said...

Wish I could have met him, sounds like a wonderful man.

My condolences for your loss.


mid said...

Lucy, sorry for your loss. Your father lived a wonderful life, it sounds like, and no doubt you were no small part of it. Take care.

OhioMom said...


I haven't checked in lately, I am sorry for your loss. What a wonderful tribute to your Dad.

Edward said...

Very sorry for your loss. I was one of your Dad's Architecture students at Miami U. just before he retired and have very vivid and fond memories of him. He taught my first drawing class; charcoal drawings of a tree just outside Almuni Hall. He impressed on me the visceral in learning, in art.