Jim Owens Dies After Decade-Long Fight Against Cancer

Jim Owens, 46, vice president of Owens Companies, Inc., Bloomington, MN, died at his home in Edina, MN on January 4, after a 10-year battle with brain cancer.

Owens was the head of the Owens Companies' automation division and its director of marketing. His father, the late Robert H. Owens, founded Owens Companies, Inc. in 1957. Owens Companies was the Contracting Business Commercial Contractor of the Year in 1996.

Jim Owens graduated from Blake School in 1981, and earned his college degree from Bucknell University in 1986. In 1993, he was awarded an MBA by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He joined the Owens Companies in 1994.

Owens' battle with cancer began on April 13th, 1998. For five years, his conditioned was stabilized by radiation therapy. In spite of ongoing treatments, Owens continued to run, swim, cycle, and participate in endurance events, including the American Birkebeiner, the largest cross country skiing marathon in North America.

From 2002 until the time of his death, Owens was active in the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) as a fundraiser, advocate, and spokesperson, as well as a lobbyist at the state capitol and in the U.S. Congress. He was selected to be a member of the 2004 Bristol-Meyers Squibb Tour of Hope Team, completing a nine-day, cross-country trek from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. with Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and 19 other cyclists. The Tour of Hope was established to spread the word of the importance of clinical trials and to support cancer survivorship.

Owens is survived by his wife, Barb, their son, Max, and his mother, Carol Owens; brothers Tom (Stephanie Prem) and John (Pat Strong); and sisters Mary Neal (David), Nancy Fraser (Paul), and Catherine Duncan (Scott).

Prior to his death Owens completed writing The Survivorship Net, a book on survivorship, with a forward by Lance Armstrong. Owens' brother John, president and CEO of Owens Companies, told Contracting Business the family hopes to publish the book in the spring. On the night before he died, Owens spoke by phone with Lance Armstrong. Later that week, Armstrong gave the following testimony to Jim's crusade on The Daily Beast website:

“I hear a lot of stories and see a lot of courageous, tough people. It's not just a monthly or weekly thing. It's probably an hourly occurrence; where you see somebody who is fighting hard and showing incredible strength and courage that we all look up to.

“Jim Owens has fought literally for more than a decade. That kind of strength, to fight for five or 10 years, you can't compare that to anything else. Athletically, politically, socially: it's really inspiring.”

Max Owens asks that contributions be made to the Lance Armstrong Foundation at austin09.livestrong.org/johnowens. Visit caringbridge.org/visit/jimowens and jimsjourney.com to read more of the Jim Owens story.

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