Amherst Magazine

Carl Clifton Owens III '50

Deceased December 25, 2006

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In Memory

Cliff Owens, age seventy-nine, of Punta Gorda, FL, passed away on December 25, 2006.  He was the husband of the late Betsy (Massie) Owens; dear friend of Trish Gwyn of Reidsville, NC; father of Elizabeth Waugh and her husband, Warren, of Concord; brother of Lee Whitcomb of Mt. Shasta, CA; and grandfather of Kate and Molly Waugh of Concord.

Cliff was born in 1927 in Virginia.  He attended schools in both Massachusetts and Virginia.  His favorite, though, was St. Georges, but his dad moved him back to Weston because his grades were so good he thought Cliff wasn’t being challenged.  From there he enjoyed four wonderful years at Amherst, a stint in the Coast Guard, and then finally his law degree at BU.  Cliff never much liked lawyers, so he opted out of this career and decided on the rubber and chemical industry.  His experience here led him to become an executive recruiter, and he retired from this practice after many successful years of operating C. C. Owens Inc. 

Cliff met Betsy Owens, a Mount Holyoke student, while at Amherst.  They married and had a daughter, Liz.  Cliff adored his “Lizzy,” and they were not just father and daughter but best friends.  Liz and her husband, Warren, married and had two daughters, Kate and Molly, who loved their grandfather “Bop Bop” more than anything.

Warren Waugh remembers Cliff, his father in law, as a man who was known to be an incorrigible household project type of guy.  There always had to be something built, dismantled, redesigned or invented.  Liz remembers the summer that Cliff decided to build a homemade backyard swimming pool.  No, not an above ground, not a Gunite, but a real “swimming pond.”  He came across the idea in some handyman magazine in 1961.  By 1968, he had accumulated everything he needed to pull this off.  One weekend, he had the “swimming hole” dug.  The next weekend, the tar paper was laid with the sheets of fiberglass covering it.  The resin was poured, the paint applied, and the water added.  It was done—Cliff had installed a filter backyard “pond.”  Note the pond.  When the town found out about the pool, they tried to tax him.  He said that he didn’t meet the design qualifications to be a pool, thus he argued (back to the BU days), it was a pond.  He won!

In 2000, Betsy passed away after forty-nine years of marriage.  Cliff and Betsy had moved to East Orleans on Cape Cod to retire.  They both loved gardening and the outdoors and so many of their friends had moved there—it was going to be perfect.  Cliff was devastated, and after just a couple of years of loneliness, he announced that he was moving to “God’s waiting room”—Punta Gorda, FL.  He moved there in 2003 and built two homes.  While this was going on, he renewed a high school romance with Tric Gwyn from North Carolina.  They were inseparable.  They commuted between their homes and made a trip or two to Cape Cod each summer.  They loved their road trips, their families and their beloved Red Sox.

Cliff passed away this Christmas unexpectedly.  He just had a chest cold, but it seems that his heart was a little weaker than anyone knew.  He has touched so many with his thoughtfulness, his love of family and friends and his optimistic nature.  He was one of a kind.

Art Church’s best memory of Cliff is their freshman year in veterans James Hall.  “We had a group which got posted on a Carling’s Ale tin sign titled, ‘Nine ‘Pints’ of the Law’, which pictured nine really old time policemen seated on a long bench.  They had each had been labeled as depicting Ed ‘Ed’ Rowen, Don ‘O’Bie’ O’Brien, Bill ‘The Old Man’ Juergens, Cliff ‘Cliff’ Owens, CHL ‘Chal’ Schutte III, Bob ‘The Deacon’ Treat, Bill ‘Duke’ Swanston, Jim ‘Jimbo’ Nance and Art ‘Art’ Church.  We were a very tight group especially in that freshman year before fraternities.  Cliff was a really good man and will be sorely missed by his remaining survivors of the James Hall reunion.”

Warren Waugh
Art Church ’50


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