Robert Owen, 79: National advocate for veterans

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TOPSHAM — Robert Owen, 79, died Nov. 10, at his home.

He was born in Brunswick on Nov. 16, 1933, the son of Harold and Verlie Hammond Owen. He attended Brunswick schools and was a graduate of Brunswick High School.

During the Korean War, Owen served as a machine gunner in the U.S. Marine Corps. On July 7, 1967, he married Theresa Bernier and they moved to Topsham. He worked two shifts at the Varney Mill in Brunswick before it closed, and then worked an assortment of construction jobs.

After his four children were grown, Owen became involved with the American Legion. He joined Topsham American Legion Post 202 when it was formed and served as the chaplain, then commander. He went on to become the American Legion’s Sagadahoc County commander and then a Third District commander. He finally became the Legion’s Maine historian and served in other statewide positions including past department commander. He also served as the state representative on the organization’s national executive committee.

For over 25 years, Owen served as the Legion department service officer in Maine, and was one of two certified in his office by the Veteran’s Administration to process benefits claims. He was appointed to an ad hoc committee that worked to convince the Department of Defense and VA officials to discuss a unified approach to post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. One of his greatest joys in life was helping veterans obtain the benefits they deserved. Veterans and their families always maintained contact with Owen, thanking him for his efforts and strong support.

In addition to his many years of service to veterans and American Legion, he also enjoyed hunting and fishing.

He was predeceased by a son, Kirk Owen; brothers, Paul, Richard, Harold and Patrick; and sister, Diane Blanchette.

He is survived by his wife Theresa Owen, of Topsham; daughter, Darlene Wing, of Bath; step-sons, Michael and wife Dorothy, of Bowdoin, and Rodney and wife Juli, of Bowdoin; brother, Norman Owen, of Brunswick; two sisters, Carol Ciciotti and Judy Colarusso, both of Topsham; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Visiting hours were held Nov. 14 at Stetson’s Funeral Home, Brunswick, where an American Legion funeral was held Nov. 15. Interment with military honors was conducted Nov. 19 at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Augusta.

Donations in Owen’s memory may be made to the Topsham American Legion Post 202, 79 Foreside Road, Topsham, ME 04086.

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