Kenneth McMillan "Big O" Owens, Jr.



Kenneth McMillan Owens, Junior, October 22, 1944 –August 25, 2018

Most lives have many chapters and many sides – a public and a private -a work and a home – through different places and altered by change-some profound-some expected.
The path of Kent Owens’ life is much the same -from the time that he was born on Oct 22, 1944 at McCloud Hospital, the son of the late Kenneth McMillan Owens, Sr. and the late Barney Mae Gasque Owens, to his recent health issues in, Charleston, SC, where he was cared for by the two great loves of his life, his wife of 52 years, Betty and the owner of the key to his heart, his daughter LeeAnne, until his death, on August 25, 2018.

Some people are alive but Kent – also affectionately called The Big “O” lived – He did not have the calling nor urge to venture too far from his beloved homes – Marion, SC and Murrells Inlet, SC. To him, they offered all of the things that he needed and wanted – He was part of the communities and created places that people loved to gather – to eat – to play cards or to watch and argue about college football – Kent was a life long Gamecock and loved the state rivalry and the good natured joking that came with it. He could give it and take it as they say.

It is said that we get one and only one Great Love and for Kent it was and always has been Betty – He claimed that he had been in love with her since the 2nd grade, but that it took him until the 4th grade to wear her down- they were inseparable during their school years – really an epitome of an American Love story – Kent was handsome -athletic – mischievous and gruffly funny – Betty was beautiful -a cheerleader, an oboist – a high achiever academically and socially – they fit together and ultimately would marry after college and settle into life – their time together was never boring nor cookie cutter. They lived -they compromised-they worked together -they raised a family – they had heartbreak and laughter -it worked because they had each other and that was always first.
Kent was entrepreneurial – starting his career running Ken’s Menswear on Main Street in Marion along with his father. He discovered that he loved to cook and he was good at it – from breakfast -to steak dinners-to calabash seafood -to the best burgers, dogs, chili and fries that you could find.

With this passion, he started and operated several successful restaurants, including “The Pub “ (where his daughter LeeAnne began performing and dancing to songs like Delta Dawn and Afternoon Delight on the jukebox- Captain Dave’s Dockside which was named for his paternal grandfather, David Frank Owens Sr. in Murrells inlet – He is credited with opening the first outside bar on the Creek in Murrells Inlet. The Marion Grill and Kent & Co in Marion SC which were popular dining spots for families and LeeAnne’s friends -and to work along side his good friends Mike and Ricky Martin at The Dry Dock in Mullins SC. Although he had retired, for Kent this just meant that he needed to open up a smaller venue for his friends and locals to gather in Murrells Inlet – thus Big O’s Doghouse was born – and thrived.

It is difficult to put a life into a few paragraphs -especially one as colorful as Kent’s but for those that knew him, he was the one in the room people gravitated to – the person that through experiences could give advice in a few sentences -the person that would give a person a job or let you sleep on his couch – the first person you wanted to play golf with or go fishing with – Kent had many close friends and was fiercely loyal to them – he accepted that people were not perfect and encouraged them to get back on their feet after setbacks or when life was hard. He was a mans man and a family man-a community man and a introspective man – he leaves behind a treasure of stories and memories -communities that were made better because of him and a family that loved him as husband, father, brother, uncle- and two communities that called him friend.

Surviving Kent, are his beloved wife of 52 years, Mary Elizabeth Cotton Owens, (Betty), of Marion, SC, whom he always said he had been in love with since 2nd grade, but she wouldn’t give him the time of day, until 4th grade. His only child, a daughter, LeeAnne Elizabeth Owens, of Charleston. And there can be no mistake, his love for animals, and his four-legged family members, his Shi-Tzu’s Captain Kidd Owens, also know as Captain, and “Beach, Boogie & Blues” also known as “Boogie”. Even his grammar school class picture included Kent’s German Shepard, “King”, who would walk him to and from school every day. Kent also has a brother Mikell Gasque Owens and his wife, Judy of Murrells Inlet and David Barney Owens and his wife, Daryl of Marion; two loving nieces, a nephew, great nieces and great nephews. A brother, Malcolm Ellie Owens, of Murrells Inlet, and a sister, Helen Lee Owens Turner, of Conway, predecease him in death.

A celebration of life will be held at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29 at the First United Methodist Church in Marion, SC, with the Rev. Carl Hunsucker officiating, and friend Carl Moody, offering words of wisdom and memories during the service. “The Big O”, will follow his wife’s Maternal Grandmother, Mattie Perry Ward Bullock’s lead, by becoming a donor to the Medical University of South Carolina Anatomical Gift Program, which enables individuals to donate their bodies to medical science. His cremated remains will later be laid to rest with his family at their family plot in Rosehill Cemetery, Marion, SC. Donations and memorials may be made to the Owens Family Fund at Wells Fargo, Marion, SC, 507 North Main St, Marion, SC, 29571.

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