William G. Owen, retired executive assistant to former President Sheldon Hackney, died January 23 at the age of 87.
Mr. Owen’s 48 years at Penn began in 1938 when he started his undergraduate studies. He earned a BS in economics from Wharton in 1942. After serving in World War II and the Korean War, he returned to Penn in 1953 as assistant secretary of the University. Six years later, he was promoted to assistant vice president in the President’s Office and then to dean of admissions. Meanwhile, he earned an MS from the Graduate School of Education in 1967.
Mr. Owen served as secretary of the University from 1968-1975. With the launching of the major campaign, Program for the Eighties, Mr. Owen was named vice president for development under senior vice president E. Craig Sweeten. Mr. Owen’s accomplishments at Penn included the development of the central academic calendar, the Alumni Council on Admissions, and the Small Communities Talent Search, in which the Admissions Office worked with high school students in rural areas of Pennsylvania to recruit promising students. After retiring in 1986, Mr. Owen continued working at the University as a consultant and was very much involved with the Kelly Writers House. He was a member of the Class of 1942 executive board that funded the complete renovation of the Class of 1942 Garden at Kelly Writers House. He also served on the board for Almanac and the Faculty Club (now University Club at Penn) and was a recipient of the Alumni Award of Merit.
Mr. Owen is survived by his daughters, Lynda Safnauer, Virginia Fifer, and Sandra Richards; eight grandchildren including William Richards, C ’10 and Thomas Richards, Jr., C ’05 GEd ’06; and two great-granddaughters.
Memorial donations can be made to either the Kelly Writers House or to Gladwyne Presbyterian Church, 1321 Beaumont Drive, Gladwyne, PA 19035.