Frank E. Owen (Teacher)

Frank E. Owen (Teacher)

Frank Owen, Retired Music Instructor,
Dies At Age 79

Frank E. Owen, 79, of 2 Redfield Pkwy., retired director of music in the City School District, died at 4:45 a.m. Sunday (July 9, 1978) at St. Jerome Hospital where he had been a patient since May 17.

One of the best known teachers in the district, Mr. Owen was born in St. Georges, Shropshire, England, Feb. 19, 1899, a son of William and Harriet Ramsey Owen. He came to Batavia in 1927 as a music instructor and served the district for 37 years until his retirement in 1964.

H originated the Batavia High School Choristers, a group which gained nationwide acclaim through the years, and was founder of the Genesee County Music Educators Association.

Mr. Owen was elected to the City School District Board of Education one year after his retirement, and was elected president of the board in 1969.

He was a member of St. James Church, a member and past president of the Rotary Club and a member of the Retired Teachers Association.

Survivying are his wife, Natalie Walker Owen; two sons, James R., of Hamburg, and Robert W. of California, and a daughter, Katherine at home.

There will be no calling hours. Graveside services will be conducted at the convenience of the family at Machpelah Cemetery, Le Roy. Memorials may be made to the Frank E. Owen Music Scholarship Fund in care of John Bobka, director of the City School District Music Department.

Arrangements were completed by the H. E. Turner & Co. Inc. Mortuary.


Ruth M. McEvoy, Richmond Memorial Librarian and Batavia historian, in her 1993 book, History of the City of Batavia, singled out a handful of Batavians to write about. One of them was Frank E. Owen. Here's what she had to say about him, 15 years after his passing:

... Frank E. Owen, brought an enthusiasm for music to Batavia that can still be felt in the schools. He was born in St. George, Shropshire, England, on February 19, 1899, and he came to Batavia in 1923 as a music instructor. He became head of the music department for the Batavia City School District in 1927. When he retired in 1964 he was praised as "an outstanding teacher with the unique ability to inspire youngsters." He succeeded in making music one of the more apealing subjects in the school curriculum and there have been students who found it difficult to choose between music and sports as a major subject. He organized a chorus in 1927 made up of 100 girls. The Choristers, a chorus of mixed voices, organized the next year, became the outstanding musical group in the high school, and it gave concerts at Christmas time and in the spring to sell-out audiences. The Choristers occassioinally sang out of town or for radio programs. Instrumental teachers who taught under Mr. Owen's supervision organized orchestral groups and marching bands that won in competition rgularly. Mr. Owen made music important in Batavia and sent students after graduation to state colleges and to the Eastman School of Music to further their musical skills. 

Frank Owen retired from the Batavia School District in the spring of 1964 to garden his small house lot at 2 Redfield Parkway. A year or so later he joined Genesee Community College where he organized a chorus of mixed voices. He died in July 1978. There is still a strong appreciation for music here that attests to the vitality brought to Batavia in 1923 by Frank Owen.

From the 1934 Batavian:



The Frank E. Owen Music Scholarship Award

Each year since ca. 1980 the BHS music department faculty select one graduating senior who has been accepted into a music program at a 2- or 4- year institute to receive the Frank E. Owen Music Scholarship Award to be applied towards their tuition.

Classmates or friends who wish to help endow this award can do so by making out a tax deductible check to Batavia City School District with a memo of In Honor of: Mr. Frank E. Owen Music Scholarship and mail to

Batavia City School District
39 Washington Avenue
Batavia, NY 14020
Phone: 585 343-2480
Jim Owen