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Life Story / Obituary
Owen was captain of a challenging crew – five boys. He benefitted mightily from the help of his love, Allene, as he diligently met the responsibilities of family leadership. At the helm, he could be exacting in his expectations and stern with corrections, but at ease he was adventurous, playful, and funny. We boys loved those countless times and as we grew to be parents ourselves, we became more appreciative of the serious, unconditional love of a parent and provider. Owen wasn’t wordy with his love, but his energy for loving deeds was impressive. He shared of himself widely beyond the family too, notably offering his talents and the warmth of his sunny outlook to Kiwanis, among several other service and professional organizations. Owen was a devoted father and spread joy with each caring encounter as an optometrist or volunteer. Memories of him joking around while doing something helpful will live on in our hearts.
Owen’s story began on May 14, 1931, born little brother to three of four sisters. Mae and Jerome Dueweke probably doted on him after their firstborn son Jerry died at 2 yrs. The Catholic family thrived in Detroit as Jerome served as optometrist to the East side. Owen spun tales of the hijinks he would get into with his sisters in the old, tight-knit neighborhood. He went to DeLaSalle High School on Conner, the same building next to City Airport that he’d send his sons to later. Owen went to University of Detroit, but he had to work to get back on track, ultimately graduating from Pennsylvania State College of Optometry. With graduation, he was off to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, close enough to St. Louis to meet his future wife, Allene.
It was the night before Thanksgiving and Owen went with a group of his comrades to the local Knights of Columbus hall for a beer, since St. Louis was within a “dry” county. They were introduced to a group of young women, the Columbus Girls, who invited them to dance. The first time he laid eyes on Allene, Owen’s heart melted. The feeling was mutual and, after dancing the night away, the couple began dating. One year later they were engaged and on February 8, 1958, they were married at Our Mother of Perpetual Help and spent their honeymoon in Florida keeping warm together - it was so cold the iguanas were falling off the trees!
Owen and Allene bought their first home on Troester in Detroit, and in 1959 they began their family with the birth of their first son, Richard. Before long, Allene and Owen were blessed with the births of four more sons, Thomas, David, Patrick, and Jerome, moving to Warren suburbs in the 1964. They established the family home among good neighbors and a growing St. Edmunds Church community. Owen was energetically involved in organizing kids’ activities, volunteering for scouts, the church, and was a lifetime member of Kiwanis and the Michigan Optometric Association.
As the family grew up, great times were shared at a summer rental on Elk Lake where Owen taught the boys to fish, ski, and sail. Long involvement with an ambitious Boy Scout troop ensured a love of the outdoors. Owen was often playful, but peppered the boys with Owen-isms like, “Quit fiddily-farting around!” and they all successfully launched. As the boys left for school, Owen and Allene moved to a condo and hit the road in a big motor home. They travelled extensively and enjoyed it, as Owen quickly made travel friends trekking to Alaska, Nova Scotia, and spending winters in Florida.
On holidays and for family milestones, Owen enjoyed whooping up his twelve grandchildren, usually practicing a form of catch and release that involved tickling. He was a beloved, impish grandpa. Owen's life was busy with family and his practice, and he enjoyed sharing stories and noting that the family name would certainly continue. He proudly watched all his grandchildren grow to adulthood, a tremendous blessing.
Owen became a great-grandfather in July 2012, with the birth of Lucas, son of Julie and Justin. Lucas could always make great-grandpa laugh, sharing cheesy jokes and funny stories. It was clear this little acorn didn't fall far from the family tree. It is such a treasure that Lucas got to know his great-grandfather and share in the family history and circle of life.
Owen and Allene had moved to the Kalamazoo area to be close to much of their family, living on Campbell Lake for about five years before buying one of the first Garden homes at Friendship Village in 2008. At the Village, Owen was very energetic in his engagement with neighbors and the community activities. We, his family, are so grateful for the way the Village enabled a lovely decade of our parent’s lives as their health began to decline.
Owen was a purposeful committed individual. His profession and family topped the list of commitments. He had the pleasure of seeing one of his sons pursue optometry and join Owen in practice for a period. His endearment to his patients was so strong that several continue to make the trip to Kalamazoo from the Detroit area to see his son for their eyecare. In spite of his small size, he had a big personality. It filled any room he was in. Anyone who met him would not soon forget him. He quickly put people at ease with a sarcastic quip to break the ice. He will be missed by those who spent any measure of time with him.
Dr. Owen Dueweke, age 89, died December 15, 2020 at Friendship Village. Owen was preceded in death by his wife, Marie Allene, in 2016. Surviving are his children: Richard (Patricia) Dueweke, Thomas (Katharina) Dueweke, David (Suzanne) Dueweke, Patrick (Pamela) Dueweke, and Jerome (Jennifer) Dueweke; 13 grandchildren: Justin (Julie), Joshua (Emily), Samuel (Elizabeth), Benjamin, Zachary, Bell, Aubrey, Hannah, Grace, Victor, Mary, Clare, and Conor; 2 great-grandsons: Lucas and David; his sister: Bernice Gileczek; and 19 nieces and nephews.
Private burial with military honors will take place at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. A Memorial Mass and celebration for friends and family will be held at a later date. Visit Owen’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may read his Life Story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Kairos Dwelling or The Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph. Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900.