Obituary: John F. “Jack” Owens, 86

John F. “Jack” Owens
John F. “Jack” Owens

John F. “Jack” Owens, 86, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator (Retired) died Dec. 5, 2013, from congestive heart failure in Lansdowne, VA.

Jack was born March 31, 1927, in Haverhill, MA, to Mary Alice Russ and J. Frank Owens. He attended schools in Haverhill and graduated from St. John’s Preparatory School Danvers MA.

After service in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946, Jack attended St. Patrick’s College of the University of Ottawa, graduating in 1950. He then did graduate work in economics at Georgetown University, receiving a Masters Degree in 1950. While attending Georgetown, he began his service with the U.S. government, first at the National Security Agency, then at the Navy Department negotiating and managing research, production and facilities contracts. He negotiated a unique combined research and facilities contract with Johns’ Hopkins University for the Applied Physics Lab in Howard County, MD. While at Navy, Jack passed the Federal Management Intern Exam, deciding to make a career negotiating and managing contract and grant actions for the U.S. government. 

In 1962 Jack was selected by the Latin America Bureau of the Agency for International Development (USAID) to lead its contract-grant functions in support of the Alliance For Progress, President Kennedy’s Initiative to speed-up economic development in Latin America and counteract the influence of Castro and Che Guevarra to turn Latin America to communism.

In 1971, Jack Owens was appointed Procurement Executive of USAID and Director of Procurement, Commodity Financing and Transportation. In this capacity, Jack issued the termination signal, in 1975, to ships on the high-seas carrying cargo to Vietnam directing that cargoes be off-loaded in Singapore, Hong Kong and other ports for storage and preparation for sale as “foreign excess” U.S. government commodities.

In 1975, Jack was appointed Deputy Assistant Administrator for Management at USAID; a position in which he served for the remainder of his career; retiring in Jan. 1994 with 43 years of combined federal and Navy service.

In 1976, after a severe earthquake in the Friuli Region of northeast Italy, Jack was appointed to lead USAID’s program to contract for the design and construction of 21 schools and homes for the aged with 50 million dollars appropriated by Congress for Italian earthquake relief. This program was acclaimed by the Congress and the Italian communities for the speed of construction and the excellent outcome.

Jack Owens received a special award for successfully leading the Vietnam Closeout Group and also received the Administrator’s outstanding Career Award upon retirement.

Jack Owens is survived by his loving wife of 63 years Frances Burke Owens of Lansdowne Va; son John F. Owens III, his wife, Susan, and grandsons Michael and Christopher of Fairfax Station Va; son Stephen M. Owens, his wife, Georganne, and grandchildren Laurie and Scott of Ashburn Va; a third son, David William, predeceased.

The family will receive friends from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, at Loudoun Funeral Chapel. A Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Ashburn, VA. Jack’s remains will be inurned in the Columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the charity of your choice.

Please share condolences with the family at www.LoudounFuneralChapel.com.


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