Thomas Barron Owen – Rear Admiral, United States Navy

Thomas Barron Owen, 86, a Navy Rear Admiral who retired in 1970 as Chief of Naval Research and had a long civilian career in scientific research and business, died October 14, 2006, at the Wilson Health Care Center at Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He had chronic monomyelocytic leukemia.

Admiral Owen settled in the Washington area in 1957 and was director of the Naval Research Laboratory before becoming chief of Naval research. Among his responsibilities was overseeing the Sealab experimental underwater habitats.

After his military retirement, he was assistant director of the National Science Foundation and associate dean for graduate affairs and research at American University.

He also spent two years as assistant administrator at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration before serving from 1981 to 1986 as a vice president for Fairchild Industries in Germantown.

Admiral Owen was a Seattle native and a 1940 cum laude chemical engineering graduate of the University of Washington.

During World War II, he served in the Navy in the Pacific. He received the Silver Star for destroying cryptographic codes after his ship, the cruiser Northampton, was torpedoed off Savo Island in 1942.

He later saw combat in the Solomon Islands and survived the 1945 sinking of the destroyer Bush by Japanese kamikaze planes.

Besides the Silver Star, his decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal and the Bronze Star with combat “V.”

After the war, he trained in electronics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and received a doctorate in chemistry at Cornell University in 1950.

He published in scientific journals and was a member of the Sigma Xi scientific research society. His other memberships included the Cosmos Club.

He was a volunteer at the Montgomery County public library in Potomac.

Admiral Owen will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery on January 5, 2007.


On Saturday, October 14, 2006 of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Loving husband of 62 years to Rosemary Owen. Beloved father of Catherine Owen of Martinez, CA; Thomas Owen (Erika) of Sammamish, Washington; James Owen (Sylvie) of Paris, France; and Nancy Owen-Badger (Paul) of Providence, Rhode Island. Grandfather of Louise, Victor, Calvin, Darien, and Peregrine.

Services will be held at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, January 5, 2007, at 11 a.m. Everyone must assemble at the Administration building by 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made in his name to the charity of one's choice.

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