Tribute to Walter Owens
As I recall all the people that I have met on the lake that I have had such an everlasting admiration for, the person that stands out is Walter Owens.
I met Walter and his family when I first came to Lake Mitchell and have been richly blessed since. I have never met boys of that age that were more courteous and polite. We would always have time for a chat while I was on patrol.
My early work assignment included Bibb County, and Walter was the state representative and served them with honor. I would always go by and visit his place of business when I was in Centerville and see the rest of the family at the family store—always such great people.
Walter was part of a lot of good legislation for this area, and his favorite cause was law enforcement and their needs along with some problems that needed to be addressed. In those early years, the law enforcement community was in trouble. The pay was so low that officers could not afford anything more than to live as a second-class person. We were losing some of our best men to the private sector, and of course, some needed to be replaced.
As officers in the Fraternal Order of Police, we were going all out to address this problem. We needed some key supporters for the bills that were introduced, and Walter was always there, not only asking for a decent wage that someone could support but a bill that would call for “minimum standards,” calling for physical and educational standards! Folks, that was the key. As Walter would say, give the public a better product but pay them more! There is not a person in law enforcement that doesn’t owe an awful lot to Walter Owens and his constituents.
I also had utmost respect for him about how he handled himself as a professional in difficult situations. Here’s a story about Walter that I wish I had told a long time ago. I was going over to talk to the boys in their boat like always when up popped a youngster that I did not recognize. He wanted to know what my problem was! I tried to ignore him and talk with my young friends, but the poor lad then said, “Guess you don’t know who I am.” “Maybe you want to go talk with my dad.” Yep! You got it right, now, son.
I followed them over to Walter’s pier and was met by Walter and his guest. I recognized his name as being a wealthy landowner all over Central Alabama! And what does Mr. Big Shot greet me with? “What’s your problem?” I took the time to tell him what the violation was, and since I was not going to get anywhere with him, I proceeded to write the father a ticket. He laughed and dropped it on the pier. “You know that I don’t have to pay that ticket, don’t you?” Maybe not, but you have it!
I managed a smile—that always got them! He then turned to Walter and said, “We can just change that law, can’t we Walter?” Then Walter did the classic: he turned, looked his big shot guest right in he eye and said…absolutely nothing!
I couldn’t wait to see how the case was handled. The clerk said he was there early the next morning and paid it. My friend Walter is not well, as he spends most of his time on his beloved lake in the “Cove” area. I wish I could see him, but he can’t have too much company. I want him to know that I wish we had spent more time together.
Thank you, my friend, for what you have done for my chosen profession and that I didn’t have to go to do something else to support my family. May God bless you, my friend.