Laurella Joy Owens

Published 4:04 pm Monday, August 3, 2015

Laurella Joy Owens of Birmingham, was born Nov. 2, 1928, in Louisville, Ky.

She died Aug. 1, 2015.

The daughter of Southern Baptist foreign missionaries, she spent the first twelve years of her life in Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Haifa, Palestine.

Laurella Joy Owens

Laurella Joy Owens

When World War II threatened the countries of the Near East in 1941, her family was forced to return to the United States.

She attended Chilton County High School in Clanton, where her father was pastor of First Baptist Church.

After earning a BA degree from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Miss., and the Master of Religious Education degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., she was an editorial assistant at the Baptist Sunday School Board in Nashville, Tenn.

In 1957 she began almost twentyfive years at the Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union in Birmingham as an editor of publications, including “The Window” and “Royal Service.”

She was the author of the mission study book “Shalom,” and with Virginia Pounds Brown coauthored “The World of the Southern Indians,” “Southern Indian Myths and Legends,” “Grand Old Days of Birmingham Golf 1898 to 1930,” and “Toting the Lead Row: Ruby Pickens Tartt, Alabama Folklorist.”

She was a member of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Birmingham. Though without children of her own, she became the “favorite aunt” who always expressed interest in the activities and lives of her nieces and nephews and their children. She was a faithful friend who delighted in reading, birdwatching, and spoiling her dogs.

Ms. Owens was preceded in death by her parents, the Rev. and Mrs. Roswell E. Owens.

She is survived by a sister, Rosalind O. McClanahan of Birmingham; a brother, Robert F. Owens (Alice) of Gulf Shores; and a sister, Doreen O. Hendrix (Tom) of Florence. Also surviving are nine nieces and nephews: David McClanahan (Leanne), Fort Smith, Ark.; Rosalind Mouser (Kirby), Pine Bluff, Ark.; Lizabeth Beazley (Roger), Lebanon, Tenn.; Stephen McClanahan, Decatur, Ga.; Laura Thrasher, Anderson; Charles Owens (Amy), Robertsdale; Kelly Thrasher, Calera; William Owens (Pam), Cincinnati, Ohio; Laura Wilborn (Daniel), Wellington, Fla.; 13 greatnieces and greatnephews: Matthew McClanahan, Benjamin McClanahan, Lee Nutter, Alan McClanahan, David Nutter, Owen Mouser, Andrew Wilborn, Hannah Owens, Delaney Owens, Ashley Wilborn, Rebekah Owens, Graham Owens, Sarah Laurella Owens; and one first cousin, Myra Patricia Brandon of Alabaster.

Lovie Williams was her steadfast friend and caregiver; Anita Holsombeck was her devoted nurse; Bridget Layfield, Danielle Denard, and Angie Gilmer were her caring sitters; and last, but not least, Laura Thrasher was her ministering angel.

In accordance with her wishes, there will be a private family celebration of her life.