Cary Caperton Owen, age 78, passed away peacefully at the John F. Keever, Jr. Solace Center – CarePartners in Asheville on May 4 following a long and courageous journey with Alzheimer’s disease. She was surrounded by those who loved her dearly.
She was born Jacqueline Cary Caperton on February 19, 1935 in New York City, the daughter of Eliza Ambler Caperton and William Gaston Caperton. Shortly after her birth, the family moved to Charleston, West Virginia. Cary married Charles Dexter Owen, Jr. on February 23, 1957. She and Charlie settled in Asheville.
Cary is survived by her husband Charlie; one brother, Gaston Caperton; daughter Anne Owen Armfield and husband Edward of Winston-Salem; son Charles Dexter Owen, III and wife Eleanor of Asheville and their three children Charles Dexter Owen, IV, Laura Fendrich Owen, and Catherine Aitken Owen; daughter Diana Owen Harris and husband Joe of Creedmoor, and their two children Joseph Allen Harris, Jr. and John Mason Harris; daughter-in-law Deborah Owen-Wilhelm and husband Dan and grandson William Caperton Owen, II of Rochester, MI. Cary was preceded in death by son William Caperton Owen.
Cary will be remembered as strong and compassionate, always putting the needs of others above her own. She was an intrepid adventurer in every aspect of life, participating in activities that were beyond her wildest dreams, including learning to ski, bird hunt, fly fish – even catching a world record black marlin on fly. Cary could be seen hiking the Appalachian Trail in her bright red lipstick wishing she were wearing her stiletto heels instead of the "ugly" hiking boots.
Cary graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School in Charleston, West Virginia. She then attended Hollins College and transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Cary began a career of breaking barriers for women immersing herself in fields dominated by men. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa majoring in economics. Cary was a member of the Old Well and the President of the Women’s Honor Council.
In addition to being a remarkable wife, mother, and grandmother, Cary served the local community and state in many groundbreaking and significant ways. Cary was elected to the Buncombe County Board of Education and twice was an elected member of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.
Cary had a keen interest in the educational system of North Carolina. Cary served as a board member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. She was a board member of the North Carolina Board of Education. She served as a Co-Chairman of the North Carolina Teaching Trainer Task Force. Cary was a member and secretary of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina – Asheville. Cary was a Trustee of the Arts and Sciences Foundation at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. She was also a member of The Morehead-Cain Scholarship Selection Committee. In recognition of Cary’s service to North Carolina, she was awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor James Martin.
Cary had a profound impact on health care in North Carolina by serving as a director of the UNC Health Care System Board; Director and Chairman of the Memorial Mission Medical Center and Hospital; and Director of the Mission/St. Joseph’s Board of Directors. She was an Advisory Board Member of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust; and President of the Mountain Area Health Education Center.
In Asheville, Cary served on the initial board of the WNC Community Foundation and was the President of the Asheville Community Concert Association. She was a board member of the United Way. Cary was a founding member of the Pack Square Park Conservancy creating the park as a destination in downtown Asheville. A cradle Episcopalian, Cary demonstrated her strong faith in the way she lived her life. She was Senior Warden at All Souls Cathedral where she taught Sunday school and served on numerous committees.
The family wishes to thank Tammy Thomas for her unwavering dedication. The family also wishes to thank Cary’s devoted caregivers Helen Suber, Donna Suber, and Tia Davis. Cary has received superb medical care from Dr. Peggy Noel and her team at Memory Care; Drs. Jim Cummings, Clay Ballantine and Elizabeth Gardner at Blue Ridge Premier Medicine; the staff on the 4th floor at Mission Hospital; and the staff at the John F. Keever, Jr. Solace Center – CarePartners.
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, May 8 at 11 am at The Cathedral of All Souls Episcopal Church, 9 Swan Street in Asheville, NC. A private interment will be held following the service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to either Memory Care, 100 Far Horizons Lane, Asheville, NC 28803 or John F. Keever, Jr. Solace Center – CarePartners, PO Box 25338, Asheville, NC 28813.
Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian is assisting the family and the memorial register is available at grocefuneralhome.com.