Nick Owens remembered at wake

Family friends recalled Owens’ lighthearted nature and described him as a person who was always joking around.

by Luke Feuerherm

Friends and family gathered Wednesday night at Gearhart Funeral Home in Coon Rapids, Minn., for 22-year-old University of Minnesota student Nick OwensâÄô wake. Owens was found dead Saturday afternoon at his home in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood. Those at WednesdayâÄôs wake said they would always remember OwensâÄô smile. âÄúEven when we were playing football and he got angry, he smiled,âÄù said Nick Audette, OwensâÄô teammate at St. Francis High School. âÄúHe was always smiling.âÄù Owens was a shy person but knew how to have fun, said Carlyn Becker, a 21-year-old friend of the Owens family. âÄúHe was shy around the ladies but a ladiesâÄô man at the same time.âÄù OwensâÄô mother, Mary Jo Owens, explained the high expectations she had for her son before his sudden death. âÄúWith Nick being biracial, we really thought he would help bridge the gap,âÄù said Mary Jo Owens, âÄúand dispel ideas about the stereotypical black man.âÄù Owens rented a room in the Kappa Eta Kappa house on the 1100 block of Fourth Street Southeast, but he was not a member of the fraternity, Mary Jo Owens, said. She said Owens was a fourth-year electrical engineering student who was planning on graduating in the fall semester of 2010. Family friends recalled OwensâÄô lighthearted nature and described him as a person who was always joking around. âÄúHe had his hair grown into a big, beautiful, full afro,âÄù said 23-year-old family friend Dani Hunstad. âÄúWe were headed up to Mille Lacs and we wanted to see how many suckers we could fit into his afro. We got 19.âÄù Owens was a multisport athlete and still holds a weightlifting record at St. Francis High School according to his mother. OwensâÄô high school friends Matt Traczyk and Brandon Booth remember spending nearly every day during the summer with Owens on the beach. They described him as a great friend and a fierce beach volleyball rival. Relatives recalled OwensâÄô reputation at family reunions. âÄúHe ate 25 pieces of fried chicken from his aunt Betty,âÄù said cousin Bridget Farmer Lee. âÄúIt was our family reunion. We meet every year. He sat there and literally ate chicken as fast as she could fry it.âÄù The Hennepin County coroner has not yet determined the cause of OwensâÄô death, but those close to the case indicated that drugs may have been a factor. It may be several weeks before the medical examiner releases more specific details regarding the cause of OwensâÄô death. âÄúMy son was 22 years old and never gave me a minute of trouble,âÄù said Mary Jo Owens. âÄúI donâÄôt know who is going to help my daughter with her homework.âÄù âÄúNick has always had this .50-caliber bullet,âÄù said 22-year-old Josh Cunningham, a friend of Owens. âÄúHe always said that one day he was going to fire it.âÄù After explaining OwensâÄô passion for a good time, a smile came to CunninghamâÄôs face, and he said, âÄúI think Nick can finally fire that bullet.âÄù