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Newly appointed mayor earns highest chamber honor

Shocked, humbled and blessed. That’s exactly how newly appointed South Boston Mayor Ed Owens felt Tuesday night as he was announced as the Chamber Business Person of the Year.

“I’m shocked and humbled by the fact that I was even considered to be their Business Person of the Year…I’m just not the kind of person that likes a lot of ceremony or glory,” said Owens.

“Like I said last night, I have been blessed in my life,” he said Wednesday during an interview following the awards banquet.

Owens is the seventh of eight children and a native of South Boston. His father only had a fifth grade education, and his mother didn’t finish her high school education until Owens was 6.

“Everything I am, they taught me, they instilled in me,” said Owens.

 However, he admits he wasn’t aware of the things they were trying to teach him until he was 40 years old.

“Every child thinks they know everything,” he added.

Owens is a graduate of Halifax County High School and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Hampden-Sydney College where he majored in psychology. He was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame for his outstanding performance in basketball at the high school and collegiate levels.

He is the owner of Edward Owens Agency in Halifax that has been in operation since 1985. He has volunteered much of his time to serve the community, which he believes to be “a good community and is proud to be from.” 

He is a member of the tobacco commission where he serves as a commissioner, as chair of the Southside Economic Development Committee and is a member of the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund Committee, the Executive Committee and the Research and Development Committee. He also has served on the Technology Committee.

Owens has been an active member of the Halifax Educational Foundation since 1998 and is currently a member of the board of directors for Southside Business Technology Council. He was recently selected as a member of the SunTrust Regional Advisory Council. 

“I have served in so many capacities,” said Owens.

“I have been blessed enough to travel, dine in the best restaurants, with kings, heads of states…but I’d trade it all in to spend 10 more minutes with my father or dine one more time with my mother,” he added.

Owens’ father, Clarence Owens, passed in 1982 and his mother, Julia, passed in 2009.

According to Halifax County Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Pool, nominees are chosen by criteria submitted with written proposals outlining the evaluations of being able to give unselfishly in time and expertise to further the mission of the chamber, accomplishments are above and beyond their own field of endeavor, demonstrates excellence, creativity, initiative and sound moral character, have made contributions during 2012, have an outstanding public reputation and image, respond effectively to adversity and demonstrate problem solving ability.

“It’s a closely held secret,” said Pool.

A group of individuals comprised of chamber leaders chose the recipients, added Pool.

“He is a very deserving winner. Ed has done so much for not only South Boston Town Council and as mayor but all of Halifax and beyond,” said Pool.

Owens said he doesn’t really remember much about when they called his name Tuesday night. But he recalls he and his wife were talking and didn’t even realize what was going on, and then he was speechless.

“I don’t even remember. I’m sure she was happy and proud. I didn’t know what to say. I was speechless,” said Owens.

The humbled recipient wearing a smile Wednesday said he’d be nowhere without the support from his family, church family and the community.

“We have our challenges, but we always work through it,” he added.

Owens served on South Boston Town Council for 14 years and was selected to serve as vice mayor in 2004 and is currently serving as the mayor of South Boston.

“I want to continue to see the community move forward,” said Owens.

“I just want to thank those who have always been there and been a positive in my life,” he added.

Owens resides in South Boston with his wife of over 20 years, Dr. Nettie-Simon Owens. He is an active member and trustee of Ebenezer Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in South Boston.

“We have a great community here, and I’m proud to be from South Boston. I’m humble that they see me as a leader to lead them forward,” concluded Owens.