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Retired Congressman Major R. Owens Passes

Effective Champion of Education, Health and Peace

Brooklyn, NY – Hon. Major R. Owens, a former member of the United States House of Representatives, passed away on Monday, October 21, 2013 at the NYU/Langone Medical Center.  Mr. Owens had been in declining health for several months and the cause of death is believed to be cardiac arrest due to complications from renal failure and diabetes.  His wife, Maria, was at his side when he died.

Photo Credit: Lem Peterkin

Photo Credit: Lem Peterkin

A librarian by training and the first professional librarian ever elected to Congress, Major Owens served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 2007.  He was an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus and a member of the Education Committee during his entire tenure.  He served as a New York State Senator from 1975 to 1982 after spending six years as Commissioner of the New York City Community Development Agency under Mayor John V. Lindsay.

Congressman Owens is survived by his wife, Maria A. Owens, as well as his wife from a previous marriage, Ethel W. Owens, and five children from the two marriages — Chris, Geoffrey, Millard, Carlos and Cecilia – along with eight grandchildren.  Mr. Owens is also survived by four siblings – Ezekiel Owens, Jr., Edna Owens, Mack Owens and Bobby Owens.

Cards may be sent to The Owens Family, 135 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY  11238.

The family is requesting that all calls be made to (518) 556-1052 and e-mails be sent to  In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Central Brooklyn Martin Luther King Commission, a 501(c-3) nonprofit organization.