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Douglas Wayne Owens

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) (left) holds a press conference with U.S. Rep. Wayne Owens (D-Utah) (right) in March 1989 as part of their successful charge to win passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which provides for ongoing compensation to Southern Utahns and others damaged by nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s.

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 2nd district
In office
Preceded by Sherman P. Lloyd (1973)
David Smith Monson (1987)
Succeeded by Allan Turner Howe (1975)
Karen Shepherd (1993)

Born May 2, 1937
Panguitch, Utah
Died December 18, 2002
Tel Aviv, Israel
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Marlene Wessel
Profession Attorney
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Douglas Wayne Owens (May 2, 1937 – December 18, 2002) was a member of the United States House of Representatives for Utah's 2nd congressional district from 1973 to 1975 and again from 1987 to 1993.[1]

Born and raised in the small town of Panguitch, Utah, Owens graduated from Panguitch High School in 1955, then attended the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, from which he earned his Bachelor's degree in 1961 and his Juris Doctor in 1964. Owens' undergraduate education was interrupted while he served as missionary to France for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon church) from 1957 to 1960.[1] In France, he met his future wife, Marlene, a fellow missionary for the church. Owens reportedly worked his way through college and law school by washing dishes at the Bryce Canyon Café. He then worked as a lawyer in private practice and as a staffer for three United States Senators, Frank Moss of Utah, Robert F. Kennedy of New York, and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.[1] He was the Western states coordinator for the presidential campaigns of Robert Kennedy in 1968 and Edward Kennedy in 1980, and served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1968 and 1980.[1]

In 1972, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat by "walking for Congress" throughout the district to meet voters personally. He unseated incumbent Republican Sherman P. Lloyd with 55% of the vote. He ran an unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign against Jake Garn in 1974, then served as a mission president of the LDS Canada Montreal Mission from 1975 to 1978, after which he returned to Salt Lake City to practice law. In 1984, Owens lost the Utah gubernatorial race to Republican Norman H. Bangerter, but was re-elected to the House in 1986 and served through 1992, when he ran for the U.S. Senate again. That year, he was defeated by a wider margin than expected by Bob Bennett. Owens was embarrassed that year by his involvement in the House banking scandal, and his voting record was more liberal than Utah's voters wanted. Following his Senate defeat, he retired to semi-private life but remained a tireless proponent for the causes he had championed in the U.S. Congress.

Throughout his congressional career, Owens was a friend to environmentalists (he would later serve on the boards of several environmental organizations within the state), an advocate for “downwinders” who had suffered radiation exposure during atomic testing in Nevada in the 1950s, a strong supporter of the Central Utah Project to bring much-needed water to the region, and founder of the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation. He always considered his vote, along with the votes of his fellow freshman congressmen, to force the vote that ended the Vietnam War to be one of the highlights of his career.

On December 18, 2002, Owens suffered a fatal heart attack in Tel Aviv, Israel while on a trip to further the cause of Middle East peace.

External links


  1. ^ a b c d "OWENS, Douglas Wayne, (1937–2002)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 1774–Present. U.S. Congress. Retrieved 2007-07-05.  
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sherman P. Lloyd
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Allan Turner Howe
Preceded by
David Smith Monson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Karen Shepherd


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