Owen Lafayette Myers was born October 21, 1921 in Middle Point, Ohio. He was the first-born of William James Myers and Ethel Leota Dilbone, who married February 27, 1919 in Celina Ohio. Owen was named for Owen Clement Dilbone, his mother’s father, and Lafayette Myers, his father’s father.
He grew up as the 3rd-oldest of 7 siblings on a series of rented farms until 1931 when his father bought a foreclosed 80-acre farm. Owen was a successful student who enjoyed baseball,
basketball and listening to sports radio broadcasts and had no interest in a farming career. Following his graduation from high school in Mendon, Ohio he left home and worked at a series of jobs to support himself while enrolling at nearby Giffin College. He played on the basketball team, but soon transferred to and graduated from Findlay College in Findlay, Ohio.
Owen entered the U.S. Naval officer candidate-training program in 1944 and studied at Baldwin Wallace College in Ohio and then Navy Pier in Chicago. He served in the Pacific as an Ensign on a Landing Ship Transport (LST) and was involved in the Allied landings on Okinawa and Leyte Gulf. He was in Tokyo Bay at the Japanese surrender and served in Tokyo for several months thereafter.
While at Findlay College met Alliene Elizabeth Hess, who he would marry June 1, 1946 as he returned to civilian life. Owen and Alliene settled near his parents in Venedocia, Ohio and he began a management career that would last 37 years. His first position was as an office manager at the National Oil Seal Co. in Van Wert, Ohio. A son, Stephen Lee Myers was born October 19, 1948. Over the next year Owen and his father built a simple frame house in Van Wert that eventually would become his mother’s home for almost 40 years – until she was nearly 100.
The Federal Mogul Corporation acquired National Seal in 1954 and the family followed Owen’s job to relocate in suburban Detroit MI. They would move again when Owen took an assignment in Coldwater, MI in 1956. When his job returned to the Detroit offices in 1959 they bought a new house in Fraser MI, a rapidly growing north side suburb. In their first 13 years of life together the couple had moved a total of 8 times. They would remain in Fraser for 7 years before entering an even more adventuresome period of their lives.
Owen enjoyed landscaping and improving this home. In their do-it-yourself finished basement he raised tropical fish and helped his son build a series of Soap Box Derby racers. His daughter, Colletta Kay Myers was born there in 1960 and he chaired the building committee for construction of a local Methodist Church. Although he played no instruments he enjoyed his wife’s musical skills as the church organist and encouraged his children’s participation in school bands. Owen would sometimes share a favorite song or recite bits of poetry classics from his school days with the family, especially on long car trips. At heart he was probably too introverted to enjoy center stage.
In 1966 Owen was given the opportunity to relocate again and manage the company’s manufacturing and sales organizations in Argentina. Taking only what could be shipped in a few large crates Alliene, Colletta and he moved to La Plata, a city of about 100,000 people near Buenos Aires. He enjoyed the relative independence of this role but trained a capable Argentine manager, moved to Buenos Aires, and then returned to the Southfield MI offices. In the next 10 years the family would relocate 8 times as he moved between MI and management leadership assignments in Pueblo Mexico, San Pablo and Rio de Janerio Brazil and Paris. Upon his retirement in 1984 they returned to Fort Wayne, IN to be closer to his widowed mother. Owen’s daughter reflected that it was the opportunity to lead “on his own” that made this period of his career personally satisfying and successful. A parallel exists between this and the many farms and varied farm-related activities his father had pursued years before. Both expected their families and associates to “do the right thing” and follow directions, as well as a basic Protestant ethic.
The couple’s nomadic ways persisted in retirement, and within a few years they moved to St. Augustine, FL. While there Owen and Alliene adopted golf as their chief pastime. They spent a few summers at a golf club condominium development near Bloomington IN, but in 1990 bought a summer home in Fort Wayne IN. Owen’s mother and several of his sisters and brothers lived 50 miles away and after many years they were able to visit regularly. He made family genealogy a hobby, and succeeded in identifying many of his mother’s (Dillbone), father’s, and wife’s relatives. Owen and Alliene celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, his mother’s 100th birthday, and his sizeable strawberry patch in this home. After returning to Fort Wayne they relied on “double-wide” or manufactured housing for their winter residences in FL, first in Port Charlotte, then Ocala, and finally in Port Saint Lucie, Fl.
By 2003 Alliene was unable to enjoy golf or drive long distances, and they made a last move to a rural mountain retirement community in Martinsburg PA. She had grown up in this area and they were able to reconnect with relatives who remained in the area. The call of warmer winters remained strong, and they spent most of their winters there. In 2005 Owen collapsed a few days after of putting up the Christmas decorations and enjoying dinner with his daughter and her family. Emergency surgery to repair his ruptured aortic aneurysm was unsuccessful and complicated by kidney damage possibly initiated by childhood diphtheria. He died a few days later at age 84
In high school Owen had memorized the following stanzas from the final act of Shakespear’s “Macbeth” that he repeated often enough to his children to etch them in family memory. Although he never forgot the wartime carnage of the Pacific in 1945 I think these stanzas were meant to remind us that, as in the play, the meaning of each life lies deeper than the simple telling of names, dates and places lived.
“Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Steve: This was quite facinating and really nice to understand why you are the Michigan “farm” man. I have been reading your blogs and i thought I enjoy these “musings”