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James Owens

May 24, 2012

James Edwin Owens Sr. May 28, 1922-May 10, 2012 James Edwin Owens, Sr., beloved husband of Edna B. Owens of La Cañada-Flintridge, and son of Homer and Mary Edith Ketron Owens, passed away at his home in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains on May 10, 2012, in the presence of family. He was born on May 28, 1922, in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains’ Cumberland Gap on Wilderness Road in Middlesboro, KY, at the home of his grandmother, Francis Patterson Richardson Ketron.
James attended Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN, before transferring to Georgia Tech where he graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1943.
James was employed by Tennessee Eastman Corporation in Oak Ridge, TN, at the Y-12 plant producing enriched uranium for the Manhattan Project. He was recognized by the U.S. War Department for his contribution to the successful conclusion of World War II.
After the war, James joined the Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he focused on the research and development of nuclear power systems.
In 1953, James became a test engineer for the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics and worked on the nuclear propulsion system of the USS Nautilus submarine (SSN571). He was one of 60 civilian engineers on the Nautilus’s first sea trial, January 20, 1955.
The 11th nuclear engineer registered in the state of California, James worked on a number of nuclear reactor projects for Atomics International, including the Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE) in Santa Susana, CA, and the Hallam nuclear power facility in Nebraska.
James retired from Fluor Engineers in 1984 as Manager of Quality Assurance. After retiring, he became a consultant on several nuclear power and nuclear waste disposal projects.
James was an honorary Life Member of the American Nuclear Society and a proponent of nuclear power as an environmentally sound and reliable domestic energy source.
James enjoyed scuba diving, horseback riding, hiking, backpacking, traveling, bridge and chess. He was a long-time member of La Cañada Congregational Church volunteering as auditor, usher and board member. An avid reader, he never left home without a paperback in his hip pocket. He was a lover of horses and a cowboy at heart.
In addition to his wife, Edna, of 70 years, James is survived by his sister Audrey Sanner (IL); children: Pamela Stewart (Stanley Stewart) (CA), James Edwin Owens, Jr. (Yulin Tsao) (CT) and Paige Owens (Chuck Carree) (NC); grandchildren: Kerry Kasparian, Huyen Friedlander Brannan, Mario Juárez, Melinda Owens, Maria Elena Juárez, Edwin Owens, III; five great grandchildren; special family friend Karen Larssen, and many adoring nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations to the Autry Museum (theautry.org) or the Midnight Mission (midnightmission.org).
A celebration of James’s life will be held at La Cañada Congregational Church, 1200 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada, CA, on Sunday, May 27, 2012, at 3:00 p.m. A reception follows in the church Fellowship Hall.

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