He called his sister brilliant and said she could have been president of the United States had she been born a generation or two later. Still, he said, she was a trailblazer in the face of many doors closed to women of her generation.
Owen grew up in Charleston and graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School in 1952. She attended Hollins College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
She and her husband, Charles Owen, married in 1957, settled in Asheville, N.C., and raised four children.
Caperton said his sister was often the first woman to serve on a committee or board. Owen twice served on the Buncombe County Board of Education and twice was elected to the county's Board of Commissioners. She served as a board member of the UNC Board of Governors and the North Carolina Board of Education.
She served as a member and secretary of the board of trustees of the UNC-Asheville, a trustee of the Arts and Sciences Foundation at the UNC-Chapel Hill, and was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor James Martin in recognition of her service to NC.
Owen was very involved in health care and served as a director of the UNC Health Care System Board, director and chairman of the Memorial Mission Medical Center and Hospital, director of the Mission/St. Joseph's Board of Directors, and president of the Mountain Area Health Education Center.
She served as president of the Asheville Community Concert Association, board member of the Asheville United Way, and as a founding member of the Pak Square Park Conservancy. Owen was a senior warden at the All Souls Cathedral where she taught Sunday school and served on many committees.
Caperton said that like their parents -- Eliza Ambler Caperton and William Gaston Caperton -- Owen demonstrated her strong Episcopalian faith in the way she lived her life. Those memories helped him choose the words from Matthew 5:16 for the plaque beneath his sister's sculpture: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Reach Judy E. Hamilton at judy.hamil...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.