OCC Pioneer John Owens, 80, Dies in San Jose


John Stephen Owens, a charter member of the Orange Coast College faculty and former vice chancellor of the Coast Community College District, died Friday of a heart attack at his San Jose home. He was 80.

Owens had been resting at home with his wife, Hazel, and recuperating from lower-back surgery when the heart attack occurred, said an Orange Coast College official.

Owens, a graduate of St. Mary’s College, USC and Stanford University, became one of OCC’s first faculty members and its first football coach in 1948. He taught classes in construction technology and coached the football and wrestling teams until 1955.


Owens was division chairman of technology until 1962, when he became coordinator of trade and technical education. The John S. Owens Skill Center, home to OCC’s aviation technology, welding and avionic programs, was named in his honor in 1975.

“John was particularly responsible for enabling Orange Coast to broaden its whole curriculum in the technical field,” said Robert B. Moore, a former OCC president and a close friend of Owens. “He made a tremendous effort in rebuilding the technical programs at OCC when Golden West College opened its doors in 1964 and acquired the college’s auto mechanics, police science and nursing programs.”

From 1966 until his retirement in 1973, Owens was vice chancellor of the Coast Community College District.

In addition to his wife, who taught home economics at Newport Harbor High School for many years, Owens is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, John and Dede Owens of Alabama, and three grandchildren.

No memorial service is planned.