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jim owen

August 23, 2021 - 11:42am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, kathy hochul, jim owen, New York State governor.

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When Jim Owen, well known as “The Mayor of Redfield Parkway,” had 16-year-old Kathleen Courtney as an 11th-grader in his typing class at Hamburg Junior-Senior High School, little did he know that someday she would become the first female governor of New York State.

But he did see some personality traits and skill sets that he says have served her well throughout her political career.

Courtney was part of that typing class in 1975, about eight years into Owen’s teaching career that included 36 years as a full-time instructor and the last 18 years as a substitute teacher in the Batavia City School District.

Forty-six years later, Courtney, now Kathy Hochul, will assume the state’s highest office on Tuesday. She is succeeding Andrew Cuomo, who is stepping down following a state attorney general’s report that he sexually harassed 11 women.

Cuomo has repeatedly denied the accusations, but said he is resigning in the best interest of the state.

The “best interests of the state” will become the responsibility of Hochul, 62 (she will be 63 on Aug. 27), who, according to Owen, is prepared to do a great job.

“One of the things is that she is a person who communicates with many people,” Owen said of Hochul, who has been New York’s lieutenant governor since 2014. “In my opinion, she makes people feel important; she makes people feel comfortable, and I think she is a great listener.

“I always remember when she said, ‘If it’s a Republican idea and it’s a good idea, I’ll take it. If it’s a Democratic idea and it’s a good idea, I’ll take it. If it’s a Conservative idea, I’ll take it; if it’s a Liberal idea, I will take it. Her bottom line is that she is going to do the best for the people of our state.”

Owen admitted that it’s impossible to please everyone, but is convinced that Hochul will put her best foot forward.

“Obviously, you can’t win everybody’s opinion, but she will do her darnedest.” He said. “She’s a fighter. She’s not that tall, but she grew up with a family of great athletes … good competitors, and she is, too. Of course, in typing, she did her work.”

The teacher and student have kept in touch over the years; they usually meet at Batavia Muckdogs’ games when Hochul is in town. Owen said he got a surprise call earlier this month.

“Last Friday night, Friday the 13th, about 5:30 in the afternoon, I was at Stafford Country Club and I got a phone call from 716 (area code). I thought it may be a scam, but I decided to answer it,” he offered. “Well, it’s Kathy. She’s calling me, thanking me for saying nice words about her in a story on Spectrum News – which I thought was kind of neat. That was kind of a class act that she would give me a call.”

Owen also was quoted in a story published today in the New York Daily News:

“Jim Owen, who taught her in a 28-student typing class when she was a junior, said he would not necessarily have guessed at her political future given her soft-spoken and studious nature. But he said her determination shined.

“She was a very hard worker,” recalled Owen, 78, who’s now retired and lives in Batavia. “She made the teacher look good.”

Hochul, on Aug. 12, confirmed that she plans to run for a full term as governor in 2022.

Photos: Kathy Courtney Hochul's graduation photo; her and Jim Owen at a Hamburg Alumni Foundation event; the duo at a Batavia Muckdogs' game. Photos submitted by Jim Owen.

July 7, 2021 - 6:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy owen, jim owen, Redfield Parkway, batavia, news.

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Kathy Owen dedicated a portion of the last years of her life to ensuring the stone pillars that act as markers to the opening of Redfield Parkway in Batavia were saved and restored.

It was a lot of work convincing city officials that it was actually the city that owned the pillars, that the city had a responsibility to maintain the pillars, and to finally invest in restoring the pillars.

It took eight years.

More than a year ago, Owen died.  

Yesterday evening, more than 50 Redfield Parkway residents, along with other community members, gathered in the driveway of her brother, Jim Owen, to dedicate a marker commemorating Kathy Owen and her tireless efforts on behalf of the Redfield Parkway community.

Owen was known as the "Queen of Redfield Parkway" (Jim is the "Mayor of Redfield Parkway"), and was responsible for carrying on the Redfield traditions of flags, flowers, and Christmas trees but even in her absence, her spirit remains as her friends and neighbors keep these traditions alive.

"The plaque says Kathy was an advocate of Redfield Parkway," said City Council President Eugene Jankowski. "All of you are advocates of Redfield Parkway and you make the City look even better.”

Jim got a bit emotional when thanking all who turned out to remember his sister.

"She would be very proud," Owen said. "As you know, it is her birthday today and she’s looking down saying, ‘Thank you. Thank you very much.’ ”

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May 18, 2011 - 1:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul, jim owen.

Jim Owen, who taught 35 years in Hamburg and is now a substitute teacher in Batavia City Schools, came to the candidate forum at the YWCA today to see his former typing student, Kathy Hochul. She is running for Congress and was one of Owen's students in the mid-1970s. (Previous Story.)

May 15, 2011 - 2:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-26, kathy hochul, jim owen.

Popular local teacher Jim Owen, who has been turning students into fans for more than four decades, has an interest in the NY-26 special election race that's a bit different from a lot of other Genesee County residents.

One of his former students is on the ballot.

Back in the mid-1970s, Kathy Courtney took a typing class from Owen.

Eventually, she would marry Bill Hochul, become a member of the Hamburg Town Board, then clerk of Erie County and now, she's the Democratic nominee for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"As a teacher, you have students in a classroom as juniors or seniors and you have no idea where they might go," Owen said. "Then when you read the paper that they've been very successfully -- obviously, I had nothing to do with it -- but it's nice to say, 'hey, I had her as a student.'"

Kathy Hochul isn't the only famous name that Owen can list as a typing student during his 35 years of teaching at Hamburg High School. 

Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Tom Toles was also a student.

"I wish I'd gotten one of his cartoons back then," Owen said.

Owen, who also coached her brothers and cousins in track and field, remembers Hochul as a diligent student.

"Now, in typing, we don't communicate too much because you're supposed to be typing, and she was," said Owen. "She did her work."

Owen wasn't sure Kathy would even remember him.

On the campaign trail today, Hochul had time for a brief conversation and said Jim Owen is certainly "somebody stuck in my memory bank" as an important person in her young life.

"The students loved him," Hochul said. "He had a real way to take something as mundane as typing and make it real fun. He was very popular with all of the students."

A staunch Republican, Owen won't reveal who he's voting for, but admitted he can't help but root for Kathy.

"It's kind of neat to say, 'Here's a young lady I had in class and now she's running for Congress,'" Owen said. "I wish her a lot of luck. I hope things work out for her."

He added that he thinks "all three" candidates, especially the "two young ladies," would represent the community well, and he's expecting close results -- so close that a recount may be necessary.

Now a substitute teacher for Batavia City Schools, Owen doesn't know if he'll be required to work Tuesday. If he's off, he plans to attended the candidates' forum at 11 a.m. at the YWCA on North Street. If he makes it, it will be the first time teacher and student have seen each other in more than 20 years.

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