John Owen (1870-1929), like his life-long friend, Reginald Wynn Owen was born in Beaumaris, Anglesey. He became a doctor and was godfather to Reginald's daughter, Elaine Wynn Owen. She maintained that his final illness was brought on by his selfless desire to serve his patients in venturing out on a home visit one cold damp night. Elaine's brother Eric Wynn-Owen recalled as a child staying with Dr. John Owen in Liverpool and how John would run two successive clinics, one for the wealthy who could pay for his services and a free one for the poor. Eric also had a vague recollection of meeting a grocer or grocery rep. called Charles Owen on such trips and this would have been, Charles Staples Owen, who was John's brother. John was regarded as something of a saint locally. His early death was a tragedy, the more so for his mother who outlived him and who had been widowed when her three sons were still very young. It is thought that the picture (below) is of Dr. John Owen.
This obituary appeared in the British Medical Journal, 1929 February 9; p 272–273.
JOHN OWEN, M.D., F.R.C.P., Physician, Liverpool Royal Infirmary; Lecturer in Clinical Medicine, University of Liverpool.
We have to announce with much regret the death, on January 23rd, from acute pneumonia, at the age of 58, of Dr. John Owen, one of the leading figures in medicine in Liverpool, where he held many important offices. John Owen received his early education at Beaumaris Grammar School, from which he passed to University College, Bangor, proceeding thence to study medicine at University College, Liverpool, and later at Guy’s Hospital. In 1897 he obtained the diploma L.S.A., and graduated M.B.Lond., proceeding M.D. in 1906, having a few years before, obtained the D.P.H.Camb. In 1908 he became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians of London, and in 1923 he was elected a Fellow. After first qualifying he held a resident appointment at the Royal Southern Hospital, Liverpool, and then practised for a year or two in partnership at Blaenau-Festiniog. During the South African war of 1899-1902 he served as a civil surgeon in the South African Field Force, and at the conclusion of hostilities returned to London. While acting as medical officer to the St. Pancras Dispensary he continued his studies at Guy's Hospital, and then began practice as a physician in Liverpool, where his ability was soon recognized. At the time of his death he was honorary physician to the Liverpool Royal Infirmary, and lecturer in clinical medicine at the University of Liverpool. He was also honorary consulting physician to the Home for Epileptics, Maghull, the Liverpool Eye and Ear Hospital, the Liverpool Dispensary, the School for the Blind, and the Southport Infirmary. At an earlier period he had been honorary physician to the Liverpool Hospital for Consumption, the Liverpool Northern Hospital, and the Stanley Hospital. He held a commission in the R.A.M.C.(T.F.) for many years, and during the war of 1914-18 served in India and Mesopotamia, retiring with the rank of major and the Territorial Decoration.
Dr. Owen's interest in professional matters was concerned mainly with the scientific side of medicine. His contributions to its literature, in the form of articles written for various periodicals, were largely on neurological subjects. He was a member of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain, and of the Liverpool Medical Institute. At the Annual Meeting of the British Medical Association at Liverpool in 1912 he was honorary secretary of the Section of Medicine. Dr. Owen was unmarried, but is survived by his mother, to whom he was devoted, and for whom deep sympathy is felt by a large circle of friends in Liverpool and elsewhere.
Sir JAMES BARR writes from Cannes: The death of Dr. John Owen must cast a gloom over the medical profession in Liverpool, since he was universally beloved both by his professional brethren and the public. To me his death came as a great shock, as it is only about two weeks since I had a long letter from him on a subject in which we were mutually interested, and he then gave no indication of any impairment in his usual good health and vigour. John Owen, although very unassuming, knew his work well, and was extremely careful both in diagnosis and treatment. He was a man who inspired confidence - a confidence which was never misplaced. He was thoroughly imbued with the best traditions of the medical profession, and was ever ready to lend a helping hand to those in distress without any ulterior motives. His charitable deeds in the profession and outside will keep his memory green in many a household. On my return to Liverpool I shall sadly miss another old and valued friend.
Colonel A. W. SHEEN writes from Cardiff: I am minded to write a tribute of warm affection and regard, shared, I know, by all his war comrades, to the life and memory of John Owen. When I commanded the Welsh Hospital in India, of 3,000 beds, "Major John," as we all knew him, was in charge of the Medical Division. His good work, his kindness, and his personal charm endeared him to all. And there were in his character special traits of modesty, humour, and fearlessness. The last was shown by his zeal for "tiger" and by some feeling of sorrow in him that his lot had not been cast in a more active theatre of war. But duty was paramount with him: our change of destination from France to India he accepted with willing cheerfulness, and although, later, the charge of a hospital ship brought him in contact with Mesopatamia, yet the field of battle did not come his way. I only knew of his death from a notice in the Times on the day of his funeral, a death which I feel must have been contributed to by devotion to his work, in which he never spared or thought of himself. His loss will be felt by all the many with and for whom he lived and worked in Liverpool, and not least by those who knew his sterling worth and character by friendship and comradeship in the days of war.