DONALD RAY OWENS, SR-December 1, 1940-March 19, 2017


DONALD RAY OWENS, SR. was born in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana at 1:00 P.M. on December 1, 1940.  He was the third of eleven children born to David Owens, Sr. and Emma O’Lillian Johnson-Owens. At an early age, he was baptized at the New Gideon Baptist Church in the Valley Park Community where he grew up.


Donald Ray attended Saint Frances Xavier Elementary School and graduated in 1958 from Southern University Laboratory High School.   While in high school, he was on the drama team and in the choir.  Don was well educated and continued his pursuit of higher learning, earning a Ph.D. in Psychology from Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


On November 21, 1959, Don married a virtuous and God-fearing woman, Melba Jewel “Jean” Chambers. Their union was blessed with five children.


Not only did Donald Ray have a brilliant mind, he was musically gifted.  He taught himself to play the piano in his youth.  Don ultimately became the pianist at the church where he was baptized.  With the investment of time and effort, and over the course of time, he became an accomplished, renowned, and respected pianist/organist.  He sang.  He read music. He played music “by ear.”  He taught music; future musicians and numerous choirs and choir directors.  In his earlier years, he formed his own Gospel group which traveled throughout Louisiana.  His lovely wife, with her beautifully skilled first soprano voice, was a member of this group. He would also later open up a nightclub in the community to give other musicians a venue to showcase their talent.


Don was also an “old school” musician.  There was nothing he could not play.  If soloists or choirs on program were without a musician to accompany them, Don Owens—Musician Extraordinaire—would confidently and willingly assist, playing the musical selection in the key that complimented singers’ voices and vocal range.  Don continued to demonstrate the value of his expertise even after becoming significantly hearing impaired.  He loved music.


In 1976, our Sovereign God directed the family’s path to permanently relocate to San Diego, CA.  This after multiple and repeated moves from Louisiana to California, from California to Louisiana, and vice versa.  Wherever the family settled, Don immediately secured a church home where he could share his mastered music ability, and those of his wife and children.  He was the musician for churches in Louisiana; Richmond, California; Seaside/Monterey, California; Oakland, California, Los Angeles, California; and San Diego, California.  On July 29, 2012, he was honored for his selflessness by his church family, Phillips Temple C.M.E.; there was even a T-shirt to commemorate the event.  He was so pleased and extremely honored to have been recognized.  He reminisced about this very celebration a couple of weeks before his passing – still appreciative and very grateful.


Don served as a city councilman in Richmond, California.  He had been a manager of a bank and an insurance agent.  He also held a Notary Commission.  But his heart was accounting.  His business, Tax Depot, did not lack clients.  Don perfectly understood accounting, bookkeeping, and taxes and the related laws.  He was the consummate professional.  His clients were loyal, still seeking his services well after he was forced to retire from the trade as a result of a debilitating stroke in 2013.


In addition to his love and appreciation of music, Don loved to travel, camper-style.  He thoroughly enjoyed TV Westerns, Family Feud, and the Andy Griffith show.  He was an excellent cook and baker.  Don found delight in being immaculately dressed for Sunday services.  Fashion was a passion; from colorful and matching neckties, suspenders, and cufflinks to monogrammed shirts and jackets.  He did not disappoint anyone who might have anticipated his arrival just to see the ensemble he put together.


As his own dad had been, Brother Owens was lodge brother.  He was a member of the Fidelity Lodge #10, San Diego, California.


Shortly after 1:00 P.M. on Sunday, March 19, 2017, The Everlasting, Almighty, Omniscient and Most High God – Don’s Savior and God – summoned, and his spirit obediently responded and he was peacefully released from the shackles of the tent that had become a confining taskmaster, consumed with perpetual pain and unsustainable suffering.


Don was preceded in death by his parents, five brothers and four sisters, grandchildren Trey and Treana Owens, and his devoted wife of fifty-five years. He is survived by children, Donald Ray Owens, Jr. (Ursula), Donna Fay Jackson, Troy Patrick Owens, Sr. (Lynn), Casey Owens, and Perry Owens, Sr. (Regina).  He also leaves to cherish his memory his loving sister, Cynthia Elaine Green (Ronald), sixteen grandchildren, fifteen great grandchildren, and a host of nieces, nephews, friends and special others who were significant and loved by him.

Thursday, MARCH 30, 2017 at Phillips Temple C.M.E. Church; interment at Greenwood Memorial Park. Final arrangements entrusted to Anderson-Ragsdale Mortuary.

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