Owen Alexander Waddell, Sr., age 91, passed away at home on March 10, 2015. He was born in Jonesboro, NC to the late John Waddell and Addie Page Waddell. He was preceded in death by his brothers James Waddell, M.Q. Waddell, Alfred Waddell and his sister, Frances Angel.
Owen graduated from Benhaven School and worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps in Butner. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in May, 1943 and served in three campaigns during World War II in the South Pacific before returning stateside to receive an honorable discharge in December or 1945.
Landing in Durham following his service in World War II, Owen sought to make his way and began mowing and tending to yards for folks in and around the Forest Hills area. Through this, many of the doctors, attorneys, business owners and people who would shape Durham during their time came to know and admire his ready friendship, strong work ethic, grit and determination. Having grown up with little to nothing, these fine folks would stand for him at important times such as the purchase of his first vehicle, for which he remained appreciative all his days.
Owen began working with the City of Durham and served our community 34 years before retiring. He met and married his loving and devoted wife of nearly 65 years, Mary Frances (Byrd) Waddell. Together, they provided a loving and supportive home, raising 4 children: Son, Owen Alexander Waddell, Jr. (wife, Teri Danner) of Durham; daughter, Katherine Ann Jones (husband, Jerry L. Jones) of Durham; daughter, Jean Underwood (husband, Steve Underwood – sons, Jarrod and Matthew) of Raleigh; and, son Bill Waddell (wife, Teresa Roberts – sons, Brennan, Evan and Alexander) of Durham.
A man of simple pleasures, Owen loved being outdoors. As professional opportunities and advancement were presented to him, he always chose the ones that allowed him to be outside, rather than working at a desk. In retirement, hundreds of people in his neighborhood and nearby subdivisions came to know him through the contact resulting from his daily walks. Traversing miles at a time, he would “throw up his hand” in greeting to everyone he saw, often stopping to chat and connect with each person. Whether he was mentoring a fatherless young man or working alongside others tending the grounds at his church, Owen’s quiet dignity and wisdom were sought and appreciated by many. He spent many treasured years as a member of First Baptist Church of Durham where he helped build and finish the nursery when his kids were small, as well as serving as a Associate Deacon and visiting with homebound, new and prospective member. Spending time listening to and enjoying fellowship with others gave him great pleasure and it was in this that he frequently lingered in the background of group situations – a valued, but most often, inconspicuous presence.
Along with his wife, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, Owen is survived by his sister, Nellie Wilson (husband, Alvin) of Cameron, NC and his brother E.C. Waddell (wife, Phyllis) of Sanford, NC.
The family will be present 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Hall-Wynne Funeral Service, 1113 West Main St., Durham. Funeral Services will be held 11 a.m. Friday at First Baptist Church, 414 Cleveland St., Durham. Burial with military honors to follow in Maplewood Cemetery, Durham. Donations may be made to The Wounded Warriors Project or to your local VFW. Online condolences at www.hallwynne.com