Wayne Owens

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Douglas Wayne Owens
Wayne Owens 100th Congress 1987.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by David Smith Monson
Succeeded by Karen Shepherd
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1975
Preceded by Sherman P. Lloyd
Succeeded by Allan Turner Howe
Personal details
Born May 2, 1937
Panguitch, Utah
Died December 18, 2002(2002-12-18) (aged 65)
Tel Aviv, Israel
Resting place Salt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′37.92″N 111°51′28.8″W / 40.7772000°N 111.858000°W / 40.7772000; -111.858000
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Marlene Wessel
Children 5
Alma mater University of Utah
Profession Attorney

Douglas Wayne Owens (May 2, 1937 – December 18, 2002) was a member of the United States House of Representatives for Utah's 2nd congressional district from 1973 to 1975 and again from 1987 to 1993.[1]


Born and raised in the small town of Panguitch, Utah,[2] Owens graduated from Panguitch High School in 1955, then attended the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, from which he earned his Bachelor's degree in 1961 and his Juris Doctor in 1964. Owens' undergraduate education was interrupted while he served as missionary to France for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS church) from 1957 to 1960.[1] In France, he met his future wife, Marlene, a fellow missionary for the church. Owens reportedly worked his way through college and law school by washing dishes at the Bryce Canyon Café. He then worked as a lawyer in private practice and as a staffer for three United States Senators, Frank Moss of Utah, Robert F. Kennedy of New York, and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.[1] He was the Western states coordinator for the presidential campaigns of Robert Kennedy in 1968 and Edward Kennedy in 1980, and served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1968 and 1980.[1]

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) (left) holds a press conference with U.S. Rep. Wayne Owens (D-Utah) (right) in March 1989 as part of their successful charge to win passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which provides for ongoing compensation to Southern Utahns and others damaged by nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s.

In 1972, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat by "walking for Congress" throughout the district to meet voters personally. He unseated incumbent Republican Sherman P. Lloyd with 55% of the vote. He ran an unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign against Jake Garn in 1974, then served as a mission president of the LDS Canada Montreal Mission from 1975 to 1978, after which he returned to Salt Lake City to practice law. In 1984, Owens lost the Utah gubernatorial race to Republican Norman H. Bangerter, but was re-elected to the House in 1986 and served through 1992, when he ran for the U.S. Senate again. That year, he was defeated by a wider margin than expected by Bob Bennett. Owens was embarrassed that year by his involvement in the House banking scandal,[3] and was attacked for his liberal voting record. Following his Senate defeat, he retired to semi-private life but remained a tireless proponent for the causes he had championed in the U.S. Congress.

Throughout his congressional career, Owens was a friend to environmentalists (he would later serve on the boards of several environmental organizations within the state), an advocate for "downwinders" who had suffered radiation exposure during atomic testing in Nevada in the 1950s, a strong supporter of the Central Utah Project to bring much-needed water to the region, and founder of the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation. He always considered his vote, along with the votes of his fellow freshman congressmen, to force the vote that ended the Vietnam War to be one of the highlights of his career.

Personal life[edit]

While serving as a congressman, Owens was selected as a LDS Mission President and served as such for a three year tenure in the Monteal mission in Canada 1957 to 1960.

Founder of and representative for The Institute of Middle Eastern Peace in Israel.

On December 18, 2002, Owens suffered a fatal heart attack[4] in Tel Aviv, Israel while on a trip to further the cause of Middle East peace.

In the 2014 and 2016 congressional elections, Wayne Owens' son, Doug Owens, ran for election to Utah's 4th congressional district.[5] He was defeated by Republican Mia Love on both occasions.


  1. ^ a b c d "OWENS, Douglas Wayne, (1937–2002)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 1774–Present. U.S. Congress. Retrieved 2007-07-05. 
  2. ^ Barone, Michael; Ujifusa, Grant (1987). The Almanac of American Politics 1988. National Journal. p. 1206. 
  3. ^ Candidates support House list all names of check-bouncers
  4. ^ Wayne Owens, Ex-Congressman, Is Found Dead
  5. ^ Another Owens Jumps into Utah Politics

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sherman P. Lloyd
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Allan Turner Howe
Preceded by
David Smith Monson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Karen Shepherd