International Arid Lands Consortium

The Honorable Wayne Owens – 1937- 2002

In January 1993, after having served in Congress for a total of eight years representing Utah's Second Congressional District, Mr. Wayne Owens became Vice Chairman of the Center for Middle East Peace & Economic Cooperation and in February 1995 became President.


While in Congress, Mr. Owens, as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, chose to concentrate his committee efforts on the Middle East. He visited the region nearly every three months over the last five years of his service in Congress, usually accompanied by his friend, New York and Florida businessman, Mr. S. Daniel Abraham. In 1989, Congressman Owens and Mr. Abraham organized the Center for Middle East Peace & Economic Cooperation in order to support and promote the Peace Process, and to help build economic interaction between Israel and its Arab and Palestinian neighbors.


Traveling together, Mr. Owens and Mr. Abraham established a working relationship with nearly all of the leaders in the region, including Jordan's King Hussein and King Abdullah II, Egypt's President Mubarak, Israel's Prime Ministers Shamir, Rabin, Peres, Netanyahu, Barak and Sharon, The Palestinian Authority’s President Arafat, Syria's President Hafez and Bashar Assad and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah. They have also worked with other Arab leaders in Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Tunisia, Bahrain, Algeria and Yemen.


As President of the Center, Mr. Owens became renowned internationally as an honest peacemaker, known for his foresight in taking unprecedented steps toward mediation between Arab states and Israel. In 1989, Mr. Abraham and Mr. Owens were ones of the first Americans to meet with then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat in Tunisia. Mr. Owens was among those present at the September 1993 White House signing of the Declaration of Principles between Israel and the PLO, at which Israel’s Prime Minister Rabin shook hands with Chairman Arafat.


Beginning in 1999 Mr. Owens worked with the International Arid Lands Consortium through a memorandum of agreement in mutually beneficial research, demonstration, and outreach program.


Mr. Owens, the son of a sheepherder and farmer, was born in Panguitch, Utah. He was a 1961 graduate of the University of Utah and a 1964 graduate of its law school. Prior to his service in the Congress, over a period of a dozen years, Mr. Owens worked on the staffs of three United States Senators: Frank Moss of Utah, Robert Kennedy of New York, and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. He had practiced law in Utah and Washington, D.C.


He had also given six years full time service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon). In 1980 he was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the National Commission on Resource Conservation and Recovery Board, and in 1994 by President Bill Clinton to the Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission. He was also Chair of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and a member of the boards of Defenders of Wildlife and The International Crisis Group. He was also member of the Utah State and United States Supreme Court Bars.


Wayne Owens is survived by his wife Marlene Wessel, children: Dr. Sara Ruth Owens, Elizabeth Tew, H. Douglas Owens, Stephen W. Owens and Edward W. Owens; two sisters; a brother; and 14 grandchildren.



Last updated: 30 May 2003
URL: ../PF/Owens_bio.html
Last Updated: November 6, 2012
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