Doris McConnell Owens

Doris Owens passed away peacefully in Lawrence on October 16, 2014, at Allie’s Village Memory Care Home, where she had received tender, loving care during the last eight months of her life. She was born in Lawrence on May 13, 1931 to Howard and Elma McConnell. Doris graduated from Lawrence Memorial High School in 1949 and from The University of Kansas in 1953 with a degree in performance piano. She met her future husband, Dean Owens, on a blind date in the fall of 1949 at KU where she was a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority. After graduation they were married by Dale Turner at Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence on June 10, 1953. Their honeymoon was the drive to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where Dean reported for active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, and after that for several weeks in a small house on the beach at New Topsail Beach, N.C.

In 1956 the couple returned to Lawrence where Doris was active in Lawrence Music Club, P.E.O., the University Club and other organizations and where all three of their children were born. After working with Doris’ father at McConnell Lumber Company for ten years, Dean enrolled in the Law School at Kansas University. To help support the family, Doris taught piano, typed theses for KU graduate students and appeared in a number of commercials filmed by Centron Corporation.

After Dean’s graduation from Law School in 1968, the family moved to Salina where Doris made many new friends quickly. She became more involved as president of her P.E.O. chapter and member of a number of state committees. She continued teaching piano, was pianist for the Salina Symphony, Deacon and Elder of the First Presbyterian Church, volunteer receptionist for the hospital, and active in a number of other civic and sorority boards and groups. For many years the couple traveled the world with trips to all of the continents except Antarctica. Their most rewarding trips were to London with each of their grandchildren for their sixteenth birthdays.

The couple designed and built three of the family’s homes, with Doris doing the decorating and much of the painting for each of them. For her entire life, Doris enjoyed knitting and sewing, making countless items of clothing and sweaters for family and friends.

Doris was an avid tennis player. For many years Doris and a friend hosted a Breakfast at Wimbledon party for the ladies final of the British Open tennis tournament. In 1995 the Salina Country Club sponsored Doris and seven good friends in the US Tennis Association national team tennis tournament. After state and regional championships, the team was off to Tucson for the national finals where they lost their first match to Palo Alto. Fortunately it was double elimination and, after winning the rest of the matches in their bracket, they again faced Palo Alto and this time won to become USTA Senior 3.0 National Champions. It was an exciting time for all concerned.

She and Dean retired to Lawrence in 2005 where they renewed friendships from years before and soon gained many new friends. Doris was a member of Plymouth Congregational Church, Chapter EA of P.E.O., Lawrence Music Club, New Generation Society and several other groups. Doris is survived by her husband, a son Steven (Mindy) of Leawood, a daughter Susan (Jim) of Overland Park, a daughter Sarah (Thom) of Wichita, six grandchildren and one great grandchild. Her parents and brother, Don McConnell, predeceased her.

Doris was a busy, happy, supporting and loving wife and mother whose family fully appreciated all that she did for them. She was dearly loved and will be deeply missed.

After private burial there will be a memorial service at Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vermont in Lawrence on October 20, 2014 at 2 p.m. The family suggests memorials to Allie’s Village or KU School of Music c/o KU Endowment Association which may be sent to Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, Kansas 66044.

6 Condolences

  1. Marshall Stanton on October 17, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Hello, Dean,
    We stand in grief with you at this time. Although we knew you more than Doris, due to the various means of association, we appreciated her. We can recall her playing with the Salina Symphony and participation in community events. Her legacy of service and performance are remembered and appreciated.

    KWU has reached another milestone: it has found adequate funding to complete a new stadium, performance and practice fields and eight-lane track. It will carry the names: Grave Family Stadium and Gene Bissell Field. Bill Graves and his sister, Martha, were on site for the celebratory announcement 10-16-14.

    I recall with appreciation your leadership and friendship while you well-serve KWU on the Board and as Chairman.

    Best wishes,

    Marshall Stanton

  2. Sarah Duckers on October 17, 2014 at 10:23 am

    I just heard from my mother about Doris’s passing. My deepest condolences to the entire Owens family. I have many fond memories of Doris over the years, and I know she will be missed by so many.


  3. Mike Lamone on October 17, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Dean, so sorry to hear about Doris.
    You two were a great couple and she
    was such a wonderful lady.

  4. Karen Graves on October 18, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Dear Dean and family:

    The entire Graves famiy grieves with you. It was our good fortune to know Doris during her wondeful years in Salina where the Owens famly created a wonderful legacy. I am particularly pleased to have had one final chance to visit with Doris at the Next Generation event when we toured Lawrence Civil War sites. She pointed out the McConnell family gravesites. Her pride in her family was her guiding light, and with good reason. A life well-lived.

    Jim, Karen, Leslie and Amy Graves

  5. Erv Hodges on October 20, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Dean and Family: Our heartfelt sympathy to you and your family. Shirley and Erv Hodges

  6. Nancy Greenwood Williams on October 23, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Dean – we were so sorry to learn about Doris’ death and know you and your family are grateful for the loving care she received in her last days. It will take time for you to heal over her death but remember that God grants us that time for as long as you need.
    Take care of yourself and we hope to see you someday soon. We have many memories from the 49ers to talk about!
    Nancy Williams

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