Douglas Wayne Owens

The Garden Center for Peace and Cooperation is dedicated to Sara’s parents, Douglas Wayne Owens and Shirley Marlene Wessel Owens.

Below you will find more information about Wayne, in the words of Sara.

Wayne Owens and Family

If you guessed that I am the one kicking you are right. This is my family of origin. My dad was elected to congress as a democrat in the state of Utah at age of 36. He was completely unknown and not rich. He walked 711 miles across his district to meet people and talk about the issues. He was a terrific person and his best trait of all? He really loved me in all my manifestations all the time – but I might be partial.

I can’t begin to summarize what he did in his life and what affect he had on people all over the world. But it was big and it was inclusive and it was fired by love. One example I only learned at his memorial in Washington, D.C? Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman from New York was talking to me and she said you know your dad single handedly saved hundreds of lives in Cambodia. I asked how and she explained to me that he got a law passed requiring the debates about bombing Cambodia be televised. As soon as that happened, the congress was “forced” to stop voting in support of the bombing because people were watching them.


The last 10 years of his life he co-founded and was President of The Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation (now named after the surviving founder, S. Daniel Abraham if you google it). Someone once said to him “You will never create peace in the Middle East” to which my dad replied, “Maybe not, but I will die with my boots on in the trenches fighting for it.” And so he did. And he loved both sides. And people that hated each other and refused to be in the same room together for negotiations came together in one room to remember and celebrate his life.


I am attending a gathering of people who worked for him in two weeks in Salt Lake City. It is 40 years since he was first elected to congress and 10 years since he died suddenly while walking on the beach in Tel Aviv, after completing another in dozens of his peace missions to the Middle East. The people who worked for him 40 years ago are hosting a party to celebrate his life now and renew ther friendships. I hope to learn more about him.

This is some tiny measure of why our building has it’s name (notice its echo of my dad’s nonprofit name?) and is dedicated to my parents.

Wayne Owens 2

Barefoot, poor but good-looking, that’s Wayne on the right.

Wayne and Bobby

Wayne skiing with Bobby Kennedy. He was the Western States coordinator for Bobby’s presidential campaign and was devastated when Bobby was assassinated. He also worked for years for Teddy Kennedy, who spoke at his memorial in D.C.

Owens Fam Election

Gotta put a pic of my parents together because they were a team. They really cared for each other and respected each other, were devoted and loved each other. How rare is that? This is election night 1986!