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Town names gallery for Owens

If Doris Owens charged the town for the more than 15,000 volunteer hours she’s worked since being named director of the Farragut Folklife Museum in August, 1992, Farragut’s budget would have taken a hit.

Had Owens been hired for $5 an hour, (less than the current federal minimum wage) and never been given a raise, she’d have earned more than $75,000.

Getting paid for what she’s contributed, however, has never been an issue with Owens. Her attitude is much like the some 200 Farragut volunteers who serve on committees, assist at town events and staff the museum. Last week, those volunteers were honored at the annual holiday tea in the Town Hall.

This year’s tea ended on a special note as Owens took center stage while Farragut Mayor Eddy Ford read a town proclamation naming one of the museum’s three galleries after its hardest working volunteer and the town’s first Farragut’s Unsung Navy Admiral, an honor given to FUN volunteers who donate more than 3,000 hours.

First Lady Linda Ford said Owens’ recognition was, “long past due. She is the key to the function of the museum, we depend on her.”

Owens, who has her finger on the pulse of every aspect of the museum, was surprised by the presentation. Family members were in on the secret and joined her for the dedication.

A plaque reading “Doris Woods Owens Gallery” now hangs in the entrance of the first gallery. Ford added that the second gallery would be named after Adm. David Glasgow Farragut, the town’s namesake.

Adm. Farragut’s $72,000 memorabilia exhibit is one of the historical gems offered free of charge to museum visitors. The third gallery is unnamed.

During Owens’ dedication, Ford was joined by town aldermen, Farragut volunteers and former Farragut Mayor Bob Leonard, who played an integral part in the inception of the museum. Ford explained how the first museum was housed in an area about the size of a closet.

“It was all we had,” Leonard added from the audience.

Leonard suggested that Farragut open a museum after the popularity of the town’s Homecoming ’86 program. Owens was involved in the project that compiled artifacts and put together scrapbooks for the statewide celebration.

About Owens’ contributions to the museum, Ford said, “bless her little heart” and dubbed her a “hard taskmaster.” Owens presides over the museum’s committee, helps coordinate and train the some 40 docents who staff the museum and the 20 gift shop hostesses. She is responsible for planning and organizing new exhibits, coordinating events, conducting tours, budgeting, fund-raising and promotion.

Joyce Moran volunteers in the museum and gift shop. She was happy to witness the town’s special recognition of her fellow volunteer and friend. “This is (Doris’) heart and soul. She gives her life … it’s very important to her that the past is preserved.”

Owens’ past began in Concord where she was born in 1926. She lived in a house that was eventually flooded to become Fort Loudoun Lake. Owens graduated from Farragut High School and attended the University of Tennessee where she met her husband, Charlie.

Owens was a teacher and assistant principal and spent most of her married life working in Alabama and Florida. She retired in 1982 and returned to Farragut.

The Owens’ have two daughters, Vickie Owens and Marta Mills, and two granddaughters, Hannah, a freshman at Farragut High School, and Hayley, a seventh-grader at Farragut Middle School. Both are junior docents for the museum.

At the conclusion of the dedication, Owens took the opportunity to promote the museum’s next event, one that will celebrate the life and 70th birthday of Elvis Presley. Owens and her staff of volunteers are excited about exhibiting Farragut resident Lee Durand’s Elvis collection for an all-out Elvis event scheduled for his birthday Saturday, Jan. 8, 2005.

More to come about the exhibit and the event in future editions of the farragutpress.


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