Larry S. Owen (1944 - 2020)
The class has learned that Larry died in his sleep the night of November 5. The news came from a '66 classmate who worked with Larry at Stanford.
At Princeton, Larry was in Cannon Club and majored in Religion.
Larry's career at Stanford is summarized by this 2006 Stanford article at the time of Larry's retirement:
"After nearly 35 years of service to the university, LARRY OWEN retired in July as managing director of real estate investments at the Stanford Management Company. As a tribute upon his retirement, friends and associates of Owen donated almost $1 million to fund the Joan and Larry Owen Fellowship in the Stanford School of Engineering.
"The fellowship will fund graduate students in the study of sustainable energy and conservation of the environment. Through a matching program, the total fellowship expanded to approximately $2 million.
"Owen began working as a financial analyst in the Business and Finance Division of the Graduate School of Business upon earning his MBA there in 1971. In 1982, he began managing the real estate and natural resources investment programs for the management company. At the time of his retirement, the university's endowment had a market value of $15 billion, of which more than 11.5 percent ($1.7 billion) was invested in real estate."
Larry's wife Joan, who was a well-loved presence among Larry's friends at Cannon and was honored in the Stanford scholarship mentioned above, died in 2013.
Larry S. Owen
November 19, 1943 - November 6, 2020
Resident of Portola Valley
Larry S. Owen died peacefully of natural causes on Friday, November 6, 2020.
Larry was born on November 19, 1943 in Chattanooga, Tennessee to Ruth and Knox Owen. In 1956 the family moved to South Florida. Larry had a fascinating and uniquely American life experience. His adventures began at Lake Worth (Florida) High School, followed by the halls of Princeton, the Army Reserve in Jackson, Mississippi, then the avenues of New York, an advanced degree from Stanford Business School and finally as one of the premier real estate investors for not just Stanford’s endowment, but recognition among his peers as one of the most astute global real estate investors of all the major institutions.
But to limit the narrative of his life to just those bare facts would do him great injustice. What underlies it all is that at his core Larry was a human partaking fully in everything that life could offer. He was accompanied on his journey by his wife Joan who predeceased him by seven years. As life would have it, they both lived full lives and were able to pass over peacefully in their sleep at the end. They were a unique couple; some would say they were sui generis. Larry had a wicked smile and an acerbic sense of humor that could be charming - and simultaneously, not so charming. He had a towering intellect that he often hid behind a “good old boy” mumble.
Larry cultivated a wide and diverse circle of friends, whether it be classmates from Princeton or Stanford, colleagues and students of Joan’s English classes, members of a northern California commune, or the business suited investment community of endowment advisors. He touched many lives, and many lives were touched by him at parties, soirees at their home, sailing trips in the Caribbean, concerts of eclectic music, following the Grateful Dead and many places in between. On the one hand he could be a garrulous storyteller and on the other extremely taciturn. One friend recalls sailing with Larry out and back to the Farallon Islands, a trip of nine or more hours and perhaps at most ten words passed during the entire trip. Others remember being regaled with long solo dissertations on a wide range of subjects, over a glass of wine, or some other substance – his was truly a mind that had absorbed a myriad of interests, music, politics, philosophy, religion, (yes religion – that was his major at Princeton) – much to the amazement of those who got to know him.
He was a man that left behind many stories and will be missed. He is fondly remembered by his colleagues as a mentor and trusted friend. Larry was an extraordinary godfather to his many godchildren, always joking that his degree in Religion made him perfectly suited for the job. Larry is survived by his siblings Jean Whitney (Peter Sr.) of Ocala, Florida, Pam Sanders (Ronald) of Brandon, Mississippi, Bruce Owen (Linda) of Wartburg, Tennessee; his nieces Lynley Sanders, Ashley Rhodes, and Lucia R. Catalano; his nephews Peter Whitney, Jr., Owen Sanders, Kevin Owen, Randy Owen, and Joseph W. Catalano.
A virtual and an in-person memorial service will be held in the future, date and location to be determined. Gifts in memory of Larry can be made to The Larry and Joan Owen Fellowship supporting Stanford School of Engineering graduate students working to meet the needs of a growing world population in an environmentally sustainable way. Gifts can be made to the Stanford School of Engineering through the instructions provided on the Stanford Giving site https://giving.stanford.edu/how-to-give. When donating, please be sure to include the designation “Larry and Joan Owen Fellowship (KENRD)” and mark it in memory of Larry Owen.
Classmate Memories and Tributes
Tom Benghauser. I last spoke to Larry a week ago Saturday October 31st. 'F'ing Trump' was one of the last things he said during that conversation. He acquired the nickname "Black Fang" during our junior year. All of his roomies in 1942 Hall - Clendenin, Kopf, Oboz, Tomlin, Soponis, Benghauser - and many of his fellow Cannonites used it back then and have continued to do so ever since.
Robert Clendenin. Oh, my. Oh, no. RIP, Larry.
Bob Nahas. I had reconnected with Larry several years ago through Annual Giving. His death was a shock as we had spoken a few times in the weeks immediately preceding. He had a significant gift for this campaign. He love Princeton and ‘66and was a loyal and generous supporter. We were part of a group that regularly exchanged emails-serious ones and jokes. Sometimes, if he thought one to be particularly funny, he would call to say so. It was always a treat to hear from him. I’ll miss him.
Larry, a great loss.
An anecdote: After just one too many drizzly, cloudy Friday mornings in central New Jersey, sometime in February or March 1966, Larry Owen, "Fitz" Fitzpatrick and I determined to drive that Friday to Miami FL. and drive back in time for our afternoon classes on Monday.
We were desperate for a break out-and for a glimpse of sunshine. We all took turns driving through the night, but I recall Fitz, after many hours, as we drove through Georgia and approached Florida, in the back-seat yelling "I'm having a F#ck*ing Running fit!" as he tried to kick out the back windows of our car. We felt the same way, but finally made it to West Palm Beach, where Larry's sister gave us use of a trailer to sleep it off.
The next morning, we got up and baked like lobsters on the beach.
Then we made our blistered skin way to Valhalla, a/k/a Miami, and the three of us had lunch with my grandmother Jennie, a Russian immigrant. After lunch, she pulled me aside and said confidentially, "What wonderful young men."
Yeah, somehow I recall we made it back to class Monday or Tuesday that week.
A couple of things that may be useful to recall about Larry:
He was an all-state Florida football player three years' running--once as fullback and two as tackle. He came to Princeton on a scholarship, but he also was offered a full football scholarship at the University of Florida. He broke his ankle in the first couple of weeks' practice for freshman football, which ended his career. He said he was always grateful to Princeton because Princeton didn't have athletic scholarships. If he had gone to Florida, he'd have lost his scholarship.
When he came to Princeton, he intended to major in engineering (I believe electrical). After his first year, he decided that wasn't for him. He ended up majoring in religion and wrote his senior thesis on the Swiss theologian Karl Barth. But, while doing that, he took all the economics courses he could cram in. So he knew what general direction he intended to go.
Larry and I became close friends in the summer of 1964 and 1965. We both worked for the Express-Reunion Agency, putting up and taking down tents for Reunions and moving everybody's furniture to their next rooms over the summer. The first summer he and I were two of four chiefs of three-man crews, driving around campus from dormitory to dormitory in flatbed trucks. We'd often pull our trucks up next to each other and lean out the door window to talk. We both smoked in those days--me Camels and him Lucky Strikes. One time he asked to bum a cigarette from me, and after lighting up declared that Camels taste like dog shit. So I switched to Luckies and we bummed from each other regularly for years thereafter. He could be very persuasive.
In return, I taught him the basics of playing 5-string banjo. He never realized his full potential as a player, though he was an outstanding harmony singer. He said he learned from his family, who sang songs as they rode in their car on trips. He and I did a classic rendition on "Banks of the Ohio"--me on guitar and singing the melody line and him supplying sublime Appalachian harmony-- on request from Joan at family gatherings and parties for decades.
One of those summers, he and I re-conditioned an old motorcycle. We took it apart,, washed everything with gasoline, and then put it back together. Somehow we had parts left over that we couldn't figure out where they fit in. It ran fine, nevertheless. Larry always used to say that you cold tell a happy rider by counting the bugs in his teeth. Wisdom to live by in there somewhere.
Michael Hudnall '65
I’ll just add a bit. I didn’t know Larry while at Princeton, but met him on my first day working at Stanford when he and a buddy roared up to the office on their motorcycles. I soon learned he was Class of ’66 and also worked at Stanford, in finance. Larry became a nationally-recognized expert investing Stanford’s endowment in real estate. He was an avid blue-water sailor, both in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and a fly-fisherman to boot. After retirement, he was always ready to dissect politics or some tidbit from the social circles. Our last phone call was the afternoon before his passing. He was in good spirits and ready as always to kick around the latest twist in national affairs. We reminisced that afternoon about our era at Princeton, and Larry recounted coming up from high school in Florida to play football. He was a keenly loyal Tiger, and a great friend who is sorely missed.
The top photos are from the Freshman and Nassau Heralds.
The photo below came from Chuck Soponis: 1964 roommates in 1942 Hall: Top Serwatka, Soponis, Tomlin, Oboz (on the phone), bottom Benghauser, Larry Owen (all in Cannon). Missing is Clendenin.
This is Larry's portrait from Stanford.
On the left, Larry is with Tom Scott (d) in 2014 at Dick Fitzpatrick's memorial service. On the right are Alice Miller, Rick Bowers, and Larry in 2018 at Stanford.