The Department of Medicine has lost an esteemed faculty emeritus, John A. Owen, Jr., MD, who died on the morning of June 28, 2023, after suffering a series of strokes. For those fortunate to know Dr. Owen, his keen acumen, generosity, and deep love of medicine will be greatly missed.
Born on September 24, 1924, in Halifax, Va., he was the son of Dr. John Owen, a beloved country doctor in Halifax County, and Mary Carrington Owen. He was educated in local public schools and received a B.S. degree from Hampden-Sydney College in February 1944. After Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the V-12 Pre-Medical program of the U.S. Naval Reserve. He served in World War II active duty at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia. As a physician, he served in active duty at the U.S. Naval Dispensary in Washington, D.C., and during the Korean War at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, and the U.S. Naval Station, Guam. He maintained an active involvement as a reserve officer and retired as Captain Medical Corps.
He received his M.D. degree from the University of Virginia in 1948 and was elected to Omicron Delta Kappa, the Raven Society, and Alpha Omega Alpha. He received the Raven Award in 1948 as a medical student.
His internship at Cincinnati General Hospital was followed by residency training at the University of Virginia, private practice with his father, and a research fellowship at Duke University, interspersed with active duty in the Navy. Later, Dr. Owen held faculty appointments at the Medical College of Georgia and the VA Hospital, Washington, D.C. (George Washington University) before returning to the University of Virginia in June 1960 as Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, with research interests in diabetes. Dr. Owen served on the active faculty for nearly 40 years, retiring as James M. Moss Professor of Diabetes and Senior Associate Dean. He was asked to stay at the Dean’s Office until August 31, 1999. He served at various times as Co-Director of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Head of the division of Clinical Pharmacology, Chairman of the Human Investigation Committee, and Vice-Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Owen became interested in drugs and drug therapy and served at various times as Chairman of the Drug and Pharmacy Committee, Editor of Pharmacy and the Physician and of Hospital Formulary, President of the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, and as a charter member of the Virginia Voluntary Formulary Board. In addition to his editorial work, Dr. Owen wrote several scientific papers and belonged to several medical organizations. He was a longtime member of the Albemarle County Medical Society and the Medical Society of Virginia, serving the latter as president from 1990-91, at which time he was also a delegate to the AMA. One of his last projects was a collaboration with Dr. Leo Falk in the publication of The Mulholland Law: A Master Mentor and his Creed, a biography of a major professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in the last century.
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