Jesse Owens Obituary

Jesse Lee Owens
Jesse Lee Owens

June 17, 1951 - February 26, 2020
Born in Ft Collins, Colorado
Resided in Palmer, Alaska


Jesse was born in Ft. Collins, Colo., in 1951. He spent most of his early years in Missouri graduating from high school in Willow Springs. As a young man with a sense of adventure in his heart, he made his way to Alaska in 1971. Trained as an auto mechanic, he took his first Alaska job in Anchorage at the J.C. Penney auto center as a front-end specialist. Then in 1975, he went to work as a truck driver working as an oiler during the construction of pipeline. Jesse loved working on the pipeline, particularly in the Brooks Range. He appreciated the harshness of the environment and very much enjoyed his wildlife encounters.

While off slope, Jesse spent as much time as possible doing what he loved: hiking, fishing and kayaking, always with his camera within reach. Jesse had a passion for photography, and he focused on Alaska flowers, scenery and wildlife.

In 1977, Jesse suffered a life altering injury. Unable to continue with his life as a truck driver, he returned to school and earned his doctorate as a Neuroscientist and became a Professor at the University of Alaska. His professional expertise was internationally known, especially in the field of spinal cord research. During his tenure he worked with the Spinal Cord Society of America as well as Australia's Step Ahead.

Even though a wheelchair user, he never let his sense of adventure wane. He built bicycles to get out on the road, cross-country skis so he could hit the trails and even a device that, with some assistance, enabled him, in 1993, to climb to the 19,000-foot level of Mt. Kilimanjaro. His inventions also earned him three patents.

Jesse was preceded in death by his father, Jesse Owens; and his beloved dog Ferlin Husky. Jesse is survived by his mother, Zelma Weaver; and his sister, Darlene Romero, both residing in Pueblo West, Colo.; and his longtime companion Gwen Lupfer residing in Eagle River.

Jesse requested that no formal services be held. However, nothing would have pleased him more than a donation to an animal charity in his honor.

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