Wayland Lacy Owen, Sr.
May 23, 1935 – March 11, 2020
Wayland Lacy Owen, Sr. was born May 23, 1935, the only child to Thornton Lacy and Fleecy Hall Owen in their sharecropper’s cabin near Nathalie, VA. Fleecy, his mother, had complications from delivery and was taken to the hospital in South Boston, VA, while Wayland’s grandfather, John Robert Hall, living on the adjacent farm, took care of Wayland, feeding him raw cow’s milk until Fleecy recovered.
Wayland enjoyed growing up in the farm life alongside his father, splitting rail fences, growing and curing tobacco, slaughtering neighbor’s hogs and raising chickens, while still finding time to fish the local stream for knotheads and riding his bike to neighboring relative’s farms. He rode his bike to the school at Volens, and briefly attended North Staunton High School, until his parents got jobs at the Burlington mill in Brookneal, VA, where they moved and Wayland started attending the new William Campbell High School in Naruna.
There he enjoyed basketball and baseball, wearing his “lucky number” 13, and drove the school bus for two years starting at age 16.
It was on that bus that he met his future wife of 65 years, Janice Elizabeth Guthrie, the daughter of general merchandise store owners, Herman and Claudine Guthrie, in Brookneal. At Janice’s “sweet 16” birthday party, Wayland pawned his date off to his friend, so that he could dance with Janice. They have been dancing ever since that day.
Wayland and Janice were married July 3, 1954 at Falling River Baptist Church, at the ages of 19 and 17 respectively. They remained in the Brookneal area with Wayland driving a fuel oil truck for L.H. Foster Sr. for what is now Foster Fuels, working in a saw mill for Burrus Land and Lumber Co., and minding the general store at dinner time for his father-in-law in Camptown (aka Craptown), VA to help pay their rent.
Wayland enlisted in the Army in the April 29, 1958, and left his hometown of Brookneal, VA and bride of four years to attend boot camp in Fort Jackson, SC. Recognizing electronics as an up-and-coming field, Wayland chose to go to electronics school at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, where Janice was able to be with him and had their son “Butch”, Wayland Jr.
Upon completion of the electronics training, Wayland was assigned his duty station at the W-39 Nike Missile Site as a radar electronics technician. This was during the heating up of the “Cold War” with high tensions with the Soviet Union, Cuban Missile Crisis, and the beginnings of the Viet Nam War, and the 265 nation-wide Nike Missile Sites were manned to defend strategic cities from air attacks.
After Wayland’s military service ended in 1961, Wayland continued to use his electronics training working as a civilian for Teledyne in Alexandria, VA maintaining computer systems used to monitor Soviet nuclear testing with seismic data.
After a short stint as an entrepreneur owning a service station and partnering another station with his brother-in-law, H.T. Guthrie in Lynchburg, VA near his hometown, Wayland was asked by his former Teledyne supervisor to go back into public service using electronics to build and maintain railroad track-testing cars for a new company in Springfield, VA called Ensco. As much as he liked being back near his hometown and family (and Smith Mountain Lake), he chose to give up the 7-day-a-week responsibility of service station ownership in Lynchburg and returned to the DC area. When Wayland wasn’t working in Springfield, he and his test crew of Cracker Jack electricians and mechanics were traveling the railroads of the US physically examining the rails to detect flaws in order to prevent derailments.
After many stressful years of being away from home on the rails and contract renewals with the government, Wayland applied for a position with the Federal Railroad Administration in 1976 running the program that he worked with Ensco. Under the Reagan Administration, cutbacks in spending caused Wayland to be RIF’ed into a track inspector position in Boston, MA in 1980 after just purchasing 2 acres to build his dream home overlooking the Chesapeake Bay and Herrington Harbor. He and Janice moved to Boston, hoping to be reassigned back to Washington, and continued with their building plans. When the home was completed in 1984, they moved to their Friendship, MD home and Wayland did a weekly commute to Boston, spending his weekends and vacation time enjoying the view and being with family again. After an injury on the job, Wayland was granted disability and able to permanently return to the Washington area, HOME, where he and Janice have enjoyed a retired life with their three grandchildren and spending winters in FL.
Wayland was an ordained deacon at the First Baptist Church of Camp Springs, MD; a trustee and grounds maintainer for Grace Brethren Church of Calvert in Owings, MD; a realtor with Long and Foster Realty; a Gold Direct Distributor for Amway; a member of both the Grace Brethren Church and the First Baptist Church of Naples, FL; and was a very active member up until the time of his death of the Gideons International Camp of Calvert, where he and Janice daily distributed God’s Word to everyone they were led.
Wayland is survived by his bride of 65 years, Janice Elizabeth Guthrie Owen of Friendship, MD; his only son and daughter-in-law, Wayland L. “Butch” and Teresa Maureen Shannon Owen formerly of Prince Frederick, MD, but now residing in Elizabeth City, NC; their three children, Lindsay Carice Owen from Waldorf, MD; Patrick Lacy Owen from Elizabeth City, NC; and, Jonathan Michael Owen and his wife, Kristin, currently in High Ridge, MO; and their son, Wayland’s great grandson, Brantley Reid Owen.
The family would like to extend our deepest appreciation to all the friends and family, particularly to the members of Grace Brethren Church, who have helped in so many ways over the six year battle with cancer and compounded this last year by congestive heart failure. Your daily demonstration of God’s love has been overwhelming.