Don Owen: A brief biography

Here are some things you might not know about Don Owen:

He's 47.

He grew up in Minneapolis and attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. He did his student teaching at Minneapolis South High School.

He's married to Meg DeLand-Owen, a speech language pathologist at King Elementary in Urbana and Urbana Middle School.

They moved to the area so she could attend graduate school. He began working in the Urbana school district in 1989.

They have two children, who both attend the Urbana schools. Their daughter is in middle school and their son will be entering high school.

Owen enjoys attending their school activities and traveling around the United States to see relatives.

"We do a lot of things as a family," Owen said.

He also enjoys photography, spending time outside and running.

He has master's degrees in history from Illinois State University and in education from the University of Illinois.

Owen earned his doctoral degree from the University of Illinois this spring in Educational Organization and Leadership, and you can call him Dr. Owen, if you'd like.

But to him, "Dr. Owen" will always be his father, who was medical director of Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Minneapolis.

His father, Richard R. Owen, came from a long line of medical doctors, Owen said, but there was no pressure for Owen to follow. Owen's brother followed in his father's footsteps and is at least a fourth-generation doctor.

"My parents really supported me wanting to become a teacher," Owen said.

Once he gets settled in his new office toward the front of Urbana's Burkholder Administrative Service Center, he'll find a home for his Coca-Cola bottles, which he collects.

"Diet Coke got me through my dissertation," he jokes, and he found the company's museum in Atlanta "one of the best museums of popular culture."

He started collecting the bottles around 2005 and has been "picking them up" ever since.

Lately, it's possible you've seen him sporting a bow tie. Owen has a large collection of ties — so many that when he was a teacher, he could go an entire semester without repeating one — and his father-in-law gave him a bow tie for Christmas.

It reminded Owen of his father, who used to wear bow ties to work.

"It's a fun thing," he said, adding that the bow ties are just an extension of his collection.

But don't worry, he joked, "no ascots any time soon."

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