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Epilogue | Elizabeth I. "Betsy" Owens

For Betsy Owens, friends and civic groups were family

ST. PETERSBURG — Betsy Owens had no immediate family. She was an only child, and her parents died decades ago. Her own childless marriage ended in divorce 20 years ago.

But Ms. Owens considered her many close friends and an impressive list of civic organizations where she volunteered as her extended family.

"I think she felt a loneliness, had a level of pain and some sadness in her," said friend Louise Weaver, the vice president of operations at Derby Lane.

At the same time, Weaver said, "If you wanted to get a date with Betsy, you'd have to look a couple of weeks in advance in your calendar."

A longtime marketing director for Florida Blood Services, Ms. Owens volunteered for more than a dozen organizations, including All Children's Hospital, the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, PARC and Brookwood Florida. She also served a stint as president of the St. Petersburg Museum of History.

Ms. Owens died in her sleep Nov. 25. She was 66.

Her father, a career Coast Guard man, moved the family from Philadelphia to St. Petersburg in the 1960s. Ms. Owens graduated from Northeast High School.

"There was no person she didn't know in the community," said Don Doddridge, chief executive officer of Florida Blood Services, where Ms. Owens had worked since 1988.

She launched the first fund-raising golf tournament there and also started the program recognizing blood donors when they hit the 10-gallon mark.

Ms. Owens also co-chaired the Festival of States Parade with the Suncoasters each year since 1994. She also helped the Rotary Club and the Ronald McDonald House.

Doctors discovered breast cancer in October and scheduled surgery for December. Her prognosis was good, friends say.

Carol Sheehan, 61, was surprised when Ms. Owens failed to appear for a presurgical appointment Nov. 25. Sheehan, a friend who had arranged to meet her to lend moral support, drove to Ms. Owens' apartment and found her car in the driveway. The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office did not handle the case but said Ms. Owens appeared to have died from natural causes.

Friends remember her as an eclectic conversationalist with a loud laugh. She was a shrewd poker player and a social connector who knew how to get things done.

"She showed that you don't have to be lonely if you don't have the social prerequisites someone else has," Weaver said.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or


Elizabeth I. "Betsy" Owens

Born: Dec. 31, 1942

Died: Nov. 25, 2009

Survivors: One nephew, one niece.

Service: 10 a.m. Tuesday; St. Peter's Cathedral, 140 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg.

For Betsy Owens, friends and civic groups were family 12/03/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 3, 2009 9:42pm]
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