Coach Tommy Owen passed away on June 30,2010 in Levine-Dickson Hospice House in Huntersville, NC. He was 78.

Coach Owen (shown above, on the left)  began his tenure at Fairmont High School in August, 1963. He served as Athletic Director, head football coach, head basketball coach and golf coach through the 1966-67 school year. Additionally, he taught PE, drivers education and was guidance counselor.

Though his football teams lacked size and blazing speed, they posted records of 6-4, 8-2, 8-2 and 6-3-1. His last two basketball teams marked the beginning of the strong basketball tradition that still remains today, going 17-5 and 22-4 during those seasons. He organized and coached FHS’s first golf team in the spring of 1966.

Those are the facts but they don’t tell the whole story. He enjoyed his players and tried to be aware of what was going on in their lives. If you had a problem you could always talk to Coach about it and not worry about it becoming public. He kept his promises and honored his commitments.

Many of us who knew him remember his love of Johnny Mathis music. I believe that he had every album that Johnny made and he sang along with Johnny before and after practice each day. At his memorial service on July 10 the prelude music and recessional was, fittingly, Johnny Mathis music.

Thanks, coach, for teaching me to drive responsibly. Thanks for teaching me how to tape an ankle. Thanks for teaching me how to organize and prioritize. Thanks for teaching all of us in Fairmont how a winner is supposed to conduct himself.

Rest in Peace.

2 Responses to “Coach Tommy Owen, RIP”

  • Isaac (Ikie) Epps:

    First of all, Thank You, “Shooter”, for your efforts for Fairmont— my favorite home during my father’s 60 years of ministry.
    Coach Owens was a great coach–
    I had him as a civics teacher during my freshman year at FHS (1965).
    There, in that classroom underneath the auditorium in the old Fairmont High School building on Iona Street, he had a special way of teaching us “civics”.
    One day, he gave us a reading assignment. He then proceeded to draw out football plays on the blackboard–lots of ^0^0^0^0^0^`~>~0^-type diagrams; showing blocking assignments and such.
    Suddenly, the Principal made a surprise visit, and inquired as to what we were studying–
    Coach Owens, without blinking an eye, explained that we were studying the geographic importance of mountains, valleys, rivers, and islands; as they have influenced our political landscape. He pointed to his diagrams on the blackboard as clear examples that supported the lesson for that day.
    The Principal said “very good”; and went on his way.
    That day, I learned about the art and value of “improvisation”.
    Rest in Peace, Coach Owens; and may God be with your Family at this time.

  • Lindsay DeVane:

    Another memory of Coach Owens and of that time in Fairmont(my apology if a little off color):
    Playing high school football had a strong appeal for adolescent boys growing up in small towns like Fairmont in the ’60s. Mike Boaz, Bruce Thompson, Charles Pierce, and others in my class of ‘66, were stars, with athletic ability so exceeding my own it was laughable. Coach Owens made me acutely aware of that difference. It was the first night of football try-outs, and it would have been a humid August night in Fairmont. The new coach announced how the night would begin: “All right, three laps around the fence”. I had never run that far. About 30 minutes later, Coach Owens comes over to where I’m crouched on all fours, bends over, and rests a firm hand on my shoulder and inquires if I’m all right.
    “Son, do you feel like you’re going to throw up?”
    “No sir”, I said, “You’re standing in it.”
    I didn’t totally give up my dream of being a high school athletic star for a couple of more nights. Coach Owens didn’t cut me, but let me continue, although I felt I’d be eliminated soon. I quickly found out to be a star you had to possess an essential quality that Mike and Bruce had, and I didn’t: they were fast. I was slow. My cousin Anne Lewis (now deceased)offered me a trip to “O.D.” late that August which made the decision easy to voluntarily end my athletic career. I gave up.
    Over the next couple of years, we all came to know Tommy Owens as a teacher, advisor, and some of us, as a coach. I don’t recall that he ever made any comment to me that would have inferred I was a “quitter”. It would have been reasonable for him to have done so. Looking back now at that time, we all had the utmost respect for Coach Owens, I enjoyed all my subsequent interactions with him in the classroom, and I’ll always remember him fondly. I’m sorry he’s passed. Lindsay DeVane

    (Shooter, will you send me a separate email when you get a chance. Thanks)