Former Pembroke Mayor Harry Owens and his his wife Elvie passed away Sunday, just hours apart.
Harry Owens, 91, was the founder of Owens’ Supply Company and got the grant to build the current Pembroke City Hall in 1977.
Elvie Owens, 89, was the first female council member in Pembroke. They were married 72 years.
“Harry and Elvie Owens were my mentors because of the profound love they had for each other over seven decades of marriage,” Pembroke City Administrator Alex Floyd expressed on Facebook Sunday night. “May we all be a fraction as fortunate to live the life of service they lived and to know the love they knew.”
Later, Floyd said “Mr. Harry worked alongside my great grandfather at Byrd Smith Furniture and at Shuman Supply; he graduated with my grandfather, he was a great friend to my father; he taught me how to shoot clays and he loved my boy Ellis. Five generations of my family were all extremely blessed to call these fine people our friends, over the course of nearly eight decades.”
Harry Owens served as mayor of Pembroke from 1971-1977, and Pembroke Mayor Judy Cook said he was all business during his time as mayor, something she saw firsthand as city clerk.
“I served as a clerk in Mayor Owens administration and during Mrs. Owen’s term on City Council. Mayor Owens was committed to running the city like a business” Cook said. “His stewardship and forward thinking was ahead of its time. He exercised fairness and a high moral standard in his roles as a business person, an elected official, a family man, a church leader and a friend. They will be greatly missed in Pembroke.”
When the Pembroke city council named its chambers after Mayor Owens in 2017, Cook used her admiration for him in her first campaign.
“When I decided to run for mayor in 2000, one of the things I put in my brochure was how much I admired him and what he taught me,” Cook said. “He taught me that in the city of Pembroke, you look after the people and you also treat it like a business. And that’s two of the things he left me with and I really, really appreciate it.”
The couple were lifelong residents and first met as classmates.
In a story in the Bryan County News in 2017, the couple were recognized at that time as having the longest marriage in Pembroke, and were asked what was the secret to a long and blissful union.
“Don’t fuss at one another,” was Elvie’s advice. “If you disagree, just move on to something else.”
In a Q& A that appeared in the Bryan County News in 2009, Harry Owens said he enjoyed living in Pembroke.
“It’s a great place to be. It’s a good country town where everybody knows everybody.”
Asked whether he had a good tenure as mayor, Owens replied, “We accomplished a lot of things during my time. We put in the first water/sewer system. We did a mass overhaul of the fire department, and upgraded the fire system. I thought we had the best volunteer fire department in Georgia – and that continues even today.”
District 4 Councilwoman Tiffany Walraven is the granddaughter of Harry and Elvie Owens. On her Facebook page, Walraven said Sunday, “We rejoice in the life that Papa and Ninnie lived together. They were mighty stewards of the Lord and the most amazing grandparents. They joined the Lord together this afternoon within 2 hours of one another. Ninnie has suffered from dementia for 6-7 years and Papa remained with her until the final hours while fighting his own battle. Praise the Lord that they are HOME TOGETHER in Sweet Beulah Land!”
Floyd said Monday he won’t forget the Owens.
“I’ll always reflect on the lessons they taught me and the example of Christian love and service they set for everyone they met,” he said.
Mark Swendra and Jeff Whitten contributed to this report.