Traverse City Record-Eagle


June 2, 2013

TC West student 3rd to drown at park since '10


“We did everything we could,” said Long Lake Township Battalion Chief John Brown.

Brown said a cold and deep underground stream near where Owen waded, about 50 feet offshore, claimed the lives of two other swimmers in 2010 and 2011.

West Choral Director Russ Larimer watched Owen blossom from a somewhat shy freshman to a leader among his peers. He had major roles in the music department’s three productions this year, which included the jester in the annual Madrigal Feaste and multiple characters in “Spamalot.”

“He was a real natural on stage,” Larimer said of Owen, who sang tenor and bass.

Will said Owen recently talked about consulting his voice teacher on whether he should pursue a music career.

Theater instructor Kristie Bach said Owen sometimes had a comedic cameo instead of a lead role, and he was happy to handle any part.

“He thought of himself as a comedic actor, but he played everything from a villain to the Beast in ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ He was a very versatile actor,” Bach said.

Owen did everything with purpose and above all, he made others laugh, Will said.

He grew out his facial hair for the school’s Novembeard competition until the Choral-Aires’ secret Santa party. Owen surprised the group when he gave his shaved beard in a plastic bag as a gift, prompting “tears of laughter,” Will said.

West Senior High School Principal Joe Tibaldi said he doesn’t come across many students who are well-respected and talented in academics, music and theater.

“He’s liked by a wide range of kids. People just describe him as a gentle, kind soul,” Tibaldi said.

The school will hold a moment of silence during graduation today and Monday at school. Senior and Chorale co-president Susanna Oakley, 18, said the choir’s performance at graduation won’t be the same without Owen.

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