Harriet Owens Obituary (1932 – 2021) – Kimberly, WI


Harriet Irene Owens Danced Into Eternity on November 12, 2021.
She is now with her Lord, Jesus Christ, and reunites with her family and friends who have led the way. Based on the authority of the word of God, we can be assured that she is now in heaven where there are no more tears and no more pain; where those who place their trust in the Lord will have joy and peace forever, together.
There will be a gathering of family and friends on Saturday December 4th to celebrate Harriet’s inspiring life, full of determination and fearless love. This celebration will take place at the Valley Baptist Church in Appleton (valleyconnex.org) with a 2pm service and food and fellowship to follow. A time to share your memories of our dear Harriet will be available. She will be sadly missed by all who knew her here.
Harriet was born on June 3, 1932, a turbulent period in history when the Great Depression took hold of this country. Of necessity, it was also a time of determination and creativity on the part of our people. Harriet was inspired by Amelia Earhart, who received the Distinguished Flying Cross for flying her plane in 1932 from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland in less than fifteen hours. Also noteworthy are the dedicated people who have worked to advance fields of medicine, such as new research on sulfonamide antibiotics; and industry, like the invention of the Polaroid camera.
Harriet was born into the family of Steve and Stella Wisniewski, both from Poland. She was one of nine children and felt a deep sense of responsibility towards her family. She had the determination and positive demeanor to help her family during these difficult times of scarcity. When she asked her mother how she could love and care for so many children, her mother assured her that God always provides, and he did. Her mother’s faith in God had an impact in those early years.
She shared fond memories of taking care of her younger sisters. She also told adventure games and pranks with her brothers. She enjoyed reading and listening to the radio with her family, favorite radio shows like The Shadow, Lights Out and Hermits Cave. During WWII, she would sneak out of the house as a young girl to watch the welding work in the shipyards, and throughout her life she looked for opportunities to explore old barns and empty spooky houses. She loved to dance and spent time at the local dance hall to dance with the military who were brought to the Great Lakes. She had a creative, adventurous and generous heart.
Her adventurous spirit enabled her to become an au pair for Margret and Joseph Deavor, who were young professionals who worked for the university and had strong ties within the Catholic Church. She was welcomed as part of their family and traveled with them across the country, including her first plane trip to Colorado which she enjoyed very much. Her dedication to her own family brought her home as she felt she needed to help her beloved brother Bobby who was very ill with a heart complication. She was always ready to step forward in difficult times to alleviate the suffering of others.
Married life and work
Harriet met Thomas J. Owens at the Pantry Lunch restaurant in Milwaukee where Harriet was working for a relative. It was said several times how Tom was so overwhelmed by his beauty that he asked for a slice of coffee and a cup of pie! They married in 1950 before Tom was deployed to the military during the Korean conflict.
They had four children: Pamela, Drew Bird, Robert (married to Sandy Williams) and Maureen (married to Mike Gill). Harriet and Tom were dedicated parents and raised their children to be independent thinkers, good citizens, and encouraged them to follow their dreams in all decisions of life. The wisdom, life role models, and support Harriet and Tom imparted to their children have fostered individual success, each in their own way.
Their wisdom and love was also passed down to their three grandchildren: Allie, Adam and Hannah (Robert and Sandy’s children). Harriet had an incredible joy spending time with each of her grandchildren spending time together over family celebrations (Independence Day being a favorite), cooking, playing games, watching the Packers, to listen to their grandchildren play instruments or attend their events, and to venture out together: including rafting, skiing, ziplining and vacations (e.g. Paris and London, Colorado mountains and football matches KU). She loved her family unconditionally, with a lot of affection and a lot of play! She has always seen the positive in every child and grandchild.
Tom worked 3 jobs to help raise the family and later Harriet held various positions including art painter, phone patch operator, Loreal hair model, US Postal Service processor, Milwaukee Public School social worker , Manager of Securities and Bonds, and eventually retired working for the Federal Hearings and Appeals Court in downtown Milwaukee, which took her to various parts of the state for professional adventures within the justice and penitentiary system. It took a lot of courage and professionalism to work under these conditions and she excelled, receiving awards for her services and being asked to train others.
Retirement and new start
After Tom’s death in 2005, Harriet moved to Fox Valley to live near Maureen and Mike (and especially their beloved yellow lab, Buck). Other adventures were to be experienced by Harriet. She enjoyed flying, boating, gardening, entertaining guests, baking cheesecakes and special treats, painting pictures with Bob Ross, attending musicals in the park and PAC, eating out, having pampering at the park. Kohler spa, travel, sew and more.
Eventually, Harriet, Maureen and Mike joined a single household on a farmhouse in Black Creek. Other adventures followed, including country walks, herding goats, turkeys and chickens, making fresh yogurt, more gardening, more cooking, and more good neighbors. She especially enjoyed starting her day reading the Bible, singing hymns and stretching with Maureen in the morning – their special time together. They all took care of each other and grew in their love for the Lord and for one another.
Life well lived
Harriet’s endless strength and love forged a long and happy 89-year-old life, though she attributes that to her carefully crafted donut diet! She loved donuts! The impression she gave to people was one of caring, support and pleasure. Her sharp wit, humor, and beauty ignited the best of many who came in contact with her.
Her love of baking was a strong gift, as her cheesecakes were in demand throughout the community. His Christmas cookies were especially a treat to receive in the mail or at gatherings. Oh for now to talk about his lasagna, potato salad, spaghetti, Russian fluffs, lemon chicken and spatzels, homemade breads and pies, and spam buns, a family darling!
She was a force of nature, her influential smile, positivity, and ability to brighten up a room was undeniable. She had the ability to overcome obstacles with dignity and grace. No matter what Harriet faced, she trusted God and the strength to overcome him.
His laughter was contagious, his advice kind. She will be sorely missed, will never be forgotten, and will continue to improve the universe from the sky.

Posted by Heart of the Valley Cremation Services on November 28, 2021.


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