Robert Owen, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, engineer, reader, human rights advocate, and friend, died August 20,2011, at the age of 88. Bob died peacefully at his home in Shirley after a long illness.
Bob was born October 31, 1922. He grew up in Kansas, son of Methodist minister William Wiley Owen and Sadie Crowder Owen. Bob graduated from Southwestern University and served in the US Navy, where he received training in engineering, electronics, and radar development.
Bob married Carlene DiProfio in 1947 while he was a theological student at Boston University. They settled In Groton in 1949, where they raised eight children and four foster children. Bob decided to forego the ministry and became an engineer to provide for his growing family. He worked for McGraw-Hill in New York City and Mitre Corporation in Bedford. For several years, Bob worked on the top of Mt. Washington, studying techniques for de-icing aircraft. He spent the last 18 years ofhis professional life working for the Intelligence School at Fort Devens, teaching soldiers how to repair surveillance equipment. Bob was a natural teacher and loved the young men and women with whom he worked.
After retirement, Bob volunteered with the Re-Seed (Retirees Enhancing Science Education through Experiments & Demonstrations) Program, tutoring junior high and high school students in engineering. Bob retained a lively interest in religion and theology throughout his life. He loved classical music and was a strong supporter ofthe Indian Hill Symphony, where he also volunteered. Bob was an avid reader, especially of news, scientific journals, and “The New Yorker”. He was passionately interested in politics, chaired the Democratic Town Committee of Groton for five years, and supported 65 different charities. He was a longÂtime member and leader ofthe First Parish Church of Groton. He was a stamp collector and a life-long member ofthe IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers). Bob had close friends of all ages and an unwavering curiosity about life.
In 1999, Bob and Carlene were honored with the Family Member Award from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, for advocacy for people with mental illnesses.
After being widowed, Bob married Mary Ellen Chamberlain Dec. 27, 2002. He and Mary Ellen moved to Shirley. They were both members of the Shirley Democratic Town Committee as well as the Dept. of Mental Health Site Board in Fitchburg. They enjoyed music, theater, and travel.
In addition to his wife Mary Ellen, Bob is survived by and will be lovingly remembered by his eight children: Peter Owen, Ellen Smith, David Owen, Melody Owen, Ian Owen, Evan Owen, Robert Owen and Jon Owen and their families; his brother Richard Harp; his step-children: Matthew Turner and Catherine Hamill; as well as 10 grandchildren, three step-grandchildren, four greatÂgrandchildren, and many friends.
In lieu of flowers, you are invited to send donations in Bob’s name to Indian Hill Music, PO Box 1484, Littleton, MA 01460. A Memorial Service celebrating Bob’s life will be held at First Parish Church of Groton (www.uugroton.org) Sunday, Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.