Major General Donald L. Owens, 82, died peacefully on May 2, 2012, in the company of family and friends. General Owens had a brief illness following heart surgery. Don Owens was born April 13, 1930, in Phoenix. He attended St. Francis Xavier Elementary School and graduated from Grossmont High School in San Diego, returning home to attend Phoenix College. In 1952, he enlisted in the Arizona Air National Guard as a private. After completion of Air Force pilot training, he received his wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1953. He obtained his degree from Arizona State University in 1956. During 20 years as a line pilot and Chief of Aircraft Maintenance for the Phoenix Air National Guard base at Sky Harbor International Airport, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He assumed command of the 161st Air Refueling Group in 1978 and was promoted to Colonel shortly thereafter. Don served briefly as Commander, Arizona Air National Guard, as a Brigadier General and, in 1983, was appointed by Governor Bruce Babbitt to be The Adjutant General of Arizona, the first Air Force officer to hold that position. Promoted to Major General, he served as Adjutant General and Director of Military and Emergency Affairs until his retirement in 1994. The General’s military honors include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service Medal. During his lifetime of service, the General actively participated in organizations such as Project ChalleNGe, Boy Scouts of America, Maricopa Association of Governments, State Emergency Council, Rotary International, Bush Masters and Phoenicians, among others. An aviator of unparalleled achievement, General Owens flew the P-51 Mustang, subsonic and supersonic jet fighters, including the F-104 Starfighter, as well as four-engine piston and jet tankers and transports, helicopters, and hot-air balloons. He was inducted into the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010. General Owens is survived by his wife, Dolores (Dorri), his sons Stephen Owens and David Fuller (Melody), daughter Torri Scott, and son-in-law Rick Cleland. He was predeceased by his beloved daughter Dawn Lisa Cleland-Owens. Also surviving General Owens are his brother Jim Owens, sister Dorris Overko, and brother Ed Owens. His sisters, Mary Jones and Sally Dudrow predeceased him, together with his grandson Danny Pederson. Also surviving are his grandchildren, Keeli Owens; Devon Cleland; Garrett, Griffin, and Brie Fuller; Chris Pederson and Chey Scott; and his godchildren, Connor, Cassie, and Colin Sullivan. A Visitation will be held Wednesday, May 9, 2012 from 5:00 – 7:00 P.M. with a Scripture Service at 7:00 P.M. at Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home, 4800 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix. A Funeral Mass will be held Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 10:00 A.M. at St. Theresa Catholic Church, 5045 E. Thomas Rd., Phoenix. Interment will follow at St. Francis Catholic Cemetery, 2033 N. 48th St., Phoenix. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675.
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