Jan and Mary Ann Owens accept OBF Honored Couple award after 42 years in Lindsay
By Nancy Vigran
Reporter for the Sun-Gazette
LINDSAY – This year’s Orange Blossom Festival (OBF) Honored Couple are not originally from Lindsay, but, they may as well be. Jan and Mary Ann Owens were welcomed with open arms by the community when they moved there 42 years ago, and they’ve never had a moment of regret.
The Owens’ history with OBF began upon their first visit, which was at the invitation of a friend to participate in the festivities. They fell in love with the town and shortly after purchased a home there.
Mary Ann quickly became involved OBF activities. Each of their three daughters, Shannon, Corrie and Katie, have served on the Queen’s Court.
“That was an education in and of itself,” Jan said.
Being involved includes getting to know a lot of different people, and helping out wherever they have been able.
“We wanted to partake in as much as possible,” he said.
For 22 years, Jan worked as a teacher with the Porterville Developmental Center. In 2000, he took a life skill and vocational teaching position with the Tulare County Office of Education. Mary Ann also worked with the TCOE for 15 years in the Special Education Early Intervention Program.
Through the years the whole family has been quite active with the Lindsay Community Theatre. They have also participated in a variety of organizations like the Co-op Nursery School, Skimmers, PTO, Lindsay Recreation Authority, Community Youth Choir, 4-H, Lindsay High School Boosters, Fifth Quarters, and the Orange Blossom Committee.
Music has always been an important part of the Owens’ relationship and family. When Jan returned from his military service in Vietnam he remained in the reserves. He became friends with another reservist who played the guitar, who helped Jan learn to play. They got together with a couple more friends and started to play and sing together as a group called “Best of Friends.”
It started a tradition that has lasted a lifetime. For decades, no matter where they moved to, the group would bring their families together for a weekend, three to four times per year, up and down the state of California. Every spring, it meant they’d all visit Lindsay.
“With 11 children in the mix, Mary Ann figured out a way to get the kids involved in the parade and celebration,” Jan said. “OBF became a tradition for ‘Best of Friends’ for many years.”
Even now, the families try to get together at least once a year, with children and grandchildren who hope to carry on the tradition.
Jan retired in 2015 and Mary Ann in 2016. Since then they have enjoyed time at their cabin in Central Camp, developing building projects, traveling, and watching their grandchildren Molly, Owen and Ann Marie participate in sporting and theater events.
“Being asked to represent Lindsay as the OBF Honored Couple was a complete surprise,” Jan said. “We feel humbled and undeserving.”
“We’ve accepted with great gratitude,” Mary Ann said. “We’re honored to be the Honored Couple.”
Through his love of music, Jan has written a song for this year’s OBF, titled “Life is Like an Orange.” In the chorus, he sings:
“Coming home is all of this and sometimes even more, / It’s a beginning and an end; it’s a window and a door. / Life is like an orange; grown with love and with faith, / I know that I am home, I see the welcome on our face.”