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Etta Kniess Owen, 97 of Mt. Pleasant, IA, passed away peacefully in the afternoon on Friday, April 26, 2019 at Arbor Court in Mt. Pleasant.
Born March 17, 1922, on her family’s farm, which was located about six miles north of Danville, IA, Etta was the daughter of Noah and Dorothy (Kniess) Landrum. She attended elementary school at a one-room schoolhouse that was approximately two miles from her home, later attending New London High School where she was a cheerleader and was active in band, playing C Melody saxophone and piano. After graduation, she attended Burlington Junior College for two years.
It was around this time in 1939, that she met her husband of over seventy-six years, Ralph William “Billy” Owen, at the skating rink in Mount Pleasant, then located in the back of Brown’s Shoe Fit Company, approximately where the Dairy Queen now stands. They would later be married in Missouri on December 20, 1942. As a result of her relationship with Billy, she began studying the Bible and was later baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, remaining faithful to her death.
After Junior College, Etta began teaching, her first classroom assignment lasting for around eight years, after which she taught for two years in Weaver, north of Burlington, IA. After her marriage, she found a position closer to home, teaching in a one-room schoolhouse located at the corner of 170th and Benton Streets west of Salem, IA, near the Jefferson County line (no longer extant). She would teach there for four years until the school closed.
Around this time she bore her only child, her son, Thomas William Owen. Shortly after his birth, she resumed her studies at Iowa Wesleyan College (now University) in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, where she ultimately graduated with a BA in speech and drama. A few years later, she would attend the University of Iowa where she would earn her MA in speech and drama. During and after this time she taught high school in Keosauqua for thirteen years and fourteen years in Burlington, prior to her retirement.
She travelled extensively during the summers, accompanied by her husband and son. By the time old age had hampered her travels, she had visited every state in the lower 48 except Florida, and had travelled extensively throughout Canada as well, visiting all but four provinces there.
Even after retirement she remained active in teaching and drama, acting and directing in local and regional theater productions as well as conducting ESL classes for recent immigrants and refugees. She was invited to join Delta Kappa Gamma, a “professional international honor society of key women educators.” Her sisters in this organization would remain in constant, caring contact until Etta’s passing.
Along with her loving husband, Billy of 76 years, Etta is survived by a son, Tom Owen of Casper, WY; a grandson, Seth Owen; a great-grandson, Jade Beardsley; and a great-great-granddaughter, Isabelle Dominguez all of Iowa City, IA.
Preceding Etta in death were her parents, three sisters and four brothers.