Arthur (Tough) Frank Owen: – [Heath 1935–1941; 1947–1972]
Arthur Owen, a much loved member of staff died on , aged 90. He was born on in Bristol where he grew up. His father was a cabinet maker and organist at the local church. From Wells Road Primary School he won a scholarship to Bristol Grammar School. He studied classics, played for the school in the First XI and the First XV and was a leading member of the debating society. He was appointed Head Prefect in 1926 and won a Bristol Scholarship, funded by the Thomas White Foundation, which was worth £100 a year at the time, to St John’s College, Oxford.
He took a first in Honour Moderations and a second in Greats in 1931. He started his teaching career in 1933 in Pontypool, Merionethshire, and moved two years later to the post of Senior Classics Master at Heath. Here he found a congenial staff and was soon involved with rugby training and the dramatic society — in those days the staff themselves put on a play each year for the boys and their parents. The outbreak of war in 1939 found him as chief cook at a school camp in Lilstock, near Bridgewater, in Somerset. Camp was struck early and he and his colleagues managed to bundle all their charges back onto the train to Halifax.
In the early part of the war he joined the A.R.P. where he met his future wife, Maimie Fairclough, whom he married in 1941 just before being sent to West Africa where he was stationed for the rest of the war.
He returned to Halifax and resumed his teaching post at Heath. He was appointed Deputy Head in 1968 and retired in 1972. The Latin inscription on the War Memorial gates at the old school is an example of his scholarship.
His connection with St Paul’s Church, King Cross, where his funeral took place, was initially through his wife and he was a staunch member of the congregation thereafter. For many years he was Treasurer for the church and Vicar’s Warden and served as a lay member on several diocesan committees.
Although he played no musical instrument, he had a fine voice and was persuaded by Maud Taylor, a fellow Bristolian, and wife of his late colleague, Eric Taylor, to join the Halifax Choral Society. He sang with the Society for many years and for a few was President; latterly he was Honorary Vice-President. The musical connection through the Choral Society brought him into the Halifax Arts Council and he was Chairman of that body for a time.
With the passing of time he virtually gave up sporting activities but these were revived when he joined the Stafford Bowling Club. Here he found congenial company which he enjoyed greatly, and a measure of competitive sport.
He was also a great support to his wife in her activities in the British Empire Leprosy Relief Association (as it was then), the Royal Society of St George and the National Council of Women.
During the last few years he had to spend much of his time caring for his wife until she passed away in 1995; he was helped enormously in this by his friends and neighbours. This support continued as his own condition deteriorated with increasing pain from arthritis and a loss of mobility following a hip replacement.
He passed away peacefully and will be greatly missed by all who knew him through his great spread of interests, and especially by his children, Peter and Elizabeth, and grandchildren, Jennifer and Margaret, to all of whom we extend our deepest sympathy.
Digni este et vos favore.
First appeared in the Newsletter dated .