David Wayne Owens Sr., age 69, passed away December 22, 2020 at his home in Cle Elum. He lived graciously and courageously with lung cancer for eight years.
Dave was the third of four children born to Richard and Florence (Bednar) Owens on December 6, 1951. He was a fourth-generation meat cutter. As a 10-year-old Dave started going to the family meat market to learn the trade from his dad and granddad. His first job was filling gunnysacks with sawdust, which was used on the floors of the shop. “This is where I had some of the best times and learned a lot of the ways of the world,” Dave wrote in his memoir. “… being the youngest, I really got an education from these guys.”
In eighth grade, the day of the championship basketball game against Kittitas, Dave was at the market making hamburger patties for McKean’s Drive In. He got a little careless and lost about a third of his left index finger. Cle Elum lost the basketball game that night. “I like to think it was because I didn’t play,” he wrote.
His missing finger disqualified Dave from the military. After high school, he worked at a slaughterhouse in Montana and then on a halibut fishing boat in Alaska. The self-described landlubber got sea sick — each time after having meatloaf for dinner. He hated meatloaf.
Missing his dad, the late Bud Owens, Dave returned to Cle Elum and the two became partners in a mink farm. For more than two decades they worked side by side raising world-renowned mink.
Dave played as hard as he worked, enjoying the countryside via horse, jeep, and boat. When the chores were done, and always with family, he’d be camping, fishing, hunting, berry picking, mushrooming, or building a fire to cook a hot dog. Dave had a memory for every turn on every local road, not least his encounter with Sasquatch near the head of Lake Cle Elum.
Dave married Peggy Lolos in 1977. The couple have three children: Haley, Barbara, and David Jr. They divorced in 1992 but remained friends.
After the mink, Dave worked for DeVere & Sons, delivering petroleum products and home heating fuel throughout Upper Kittitas County. He was a 45-year member of the Cle Elum Eagles and served as a volunteer firefighter for 26 years.
Dave had an appreciation for Upper County folklore and could shoot the breeze with anyone. He had a knack for delivering a well-timed “Seinfeld” line and movie quotes from Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, and the like. Dave loved kids and being a grandpa. His T-shirt pocket always kept gumdrops or Swedish Fish for his granddaughters.
Dave was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his brother Richard (Utahna) Owens and sister Linda (Allen) Minerich, both of Cle Elum; his sister Carol (Hank) Adkins of Ellensburg; his daughters Haley (Scott) Kauzlarich and Barbara (Elijah) Arnott, both of Cle Elum; his son David (Kelsi) Owens Jr. of Kodiak, Alaska; his special friend Janice Barnhart; his granddaughters Natalie, Audrey, Frances, and Allison; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Johnston & Williams Funeral Home is taking care of the family. Memorial donations may be made to the Cle Elum Volunteer Firefighters Association and the Cle Elum Eagles. We’ll celebrate Dave’s life with a party when we can gather again.
Dave considered himself rich with family and love. “My family is the most important thing to me and what I get back from them is a lot more than I ever dreamed of or deserved,” he wrote. “… I was lucky. I grew up in a small town with a loving family and plenty of good friends. When the day is done that’s all that matters.”
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