PEORIA, Ariz. – On the afternoon of January 21, 2023, 75-year-old Greg Owens lost his 26-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. He passed away peacefully surrounded by his family and friends at Morningstar Assisted Living in Peoria, Arizona.
Greg Allen Owens was born on February 17, 1947 in Sioux City, Iowa to Howard and Elaine Owens. After some time the family moved to Sturgis. Greg attended and graduated from Sturgis High School and enrolled at the South Dakota Mining Technical School for further education. On February 1, 1969, he met and married his beloved wife of 54 years, Joe Barrica. That same year, Greg graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and moved to Dallas, Texas, where he got a job at Instruments. He developed aircraft radar in the Vietnam War and was part of the project that invented the first handheld calculator.
In April 1973, their son Chad was born and the family moved to Sturgis, where Greg bought the family business. From that point on, Greg was a pillar of his community in Sturgis. He has served as president of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Jaycees, Rotary Clubs, and more. He was devoted to his family, his daughter Tracy was born on February 16, 1977, and spent many years as a baseball, soccer and softball coach. He was instrumental in building the Sturgis Community Center and his field for women’s softball. His business was also successful, providing a valuable service to the Sturgis community.
This all changed in the fall of 1996 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In 1998, Greg sold his family business and he and Joe moved to Sun City. In Arizona, he started a new and very rewarding chapter in his life.
To say that Greg was an optimist would do him a great disservice. He was without a doubt the most positive person I have ever met. I never said it, but I’m sure he must have had these feelings, as we all do. He was firmly convinced that Parkinson’s disease was another obstacle he had to overcome. At one point he intended to beat the disease, which so far has proven unbeatable.
Living in Arizona has allowed him to lead an active lifestyle. This was essential to his success in fighting the disease. He played golf, softball (a Sun City Hall of Famer), pickle his ball and finally lawn bowling. Being in Arizona allowed him to meet with brain research facilities and conduct multiple research studies and experimental procedures. He was also a founding member of He Tremble Clefs, a choir made up entirely of Parkinson’s patients.
Greg has touched the lives of hundreds of people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease and their families, providing extensive knowledge and showing support for them. He never gave up, never stopped trying to understand it better, and never let despair win. He may have finally succumbed to Parkinson’s disease after all, but I try not to beat him where it matters most in his heart. I succeeded.
In a life full of accomplishments, this was his legacy.
Greg is survived by his devoted wife, Joe. Two children: Chad Owens and Tracy (Alan) Pont of Rapid City. His grandchildren: Shay Owens, Jace Owens, Luke Pont, Owen Pont, Samantha Pont. His father, Howard Owens of Spearfish. Sisters: Sandy Farrow, Sacramento, CA; Chery Owens, Lancita, CA; He was preceded by his mother Elaine (Weidenbach) Owens.
The Festival of Life is later held in Sturgis.