The Whitman College Magazine Online
Inside Cover

May 2002


Frances Penrose Owen, ’19

Frances Penrose Owen, ’19, daughter of Whitman president Stephen B. L. Penrose and one of Washington state’s most distinguished educators, died March 9. She was 102.

Owen majored in Greek at Whitman, where her father served as president for 40 years. She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. After earning a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, she worked at Frederick & Nelson’s in Seattle until 1934, when she married Henry B. Owen.

In 1934 she began an association with Seattle Children’s Orthopedic Hospital that continued for 36 years. Her leadership and fund raising helped turn the hospital into a nationally-known pediatric care center.

Eventually, Owen also became one of the most important women in Washington state in the field of education. She served on the Seattle School Board for 22 years. She was appointed Washington State University’s first woman regent and spent 18 years on the board including two terms as president. She was president of both the Association of Washington School Directors and the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities.

Owen received several Seattle and King County outstanding citizen awards. In 1989 the Seattle School Board dedicated the Frances Penrose Owen Auditorium at the district headquarters, and in 1979, Washington State University named a new science and engineering library for her. In 1990 Owen received Washington state’s highest award, the Medal of Merit.

An overseer of Whitman College, Owen gave $1 million in 1992 to established a scholarship. The Frances Penrose Owen Scholarship is now valued at $2.2 million.

She is survived by her daughter Frances Owen Pease, ’58, and stepson, Henry B. Owen, Jr., ’41. Whitman survivors also include seven nieces and nephews: Frances Copeland Stickels, ’50, Margaret Copeland Corley, ’52, Clement Penrose, Jr., ’50, Mary Louise Penrose Cadwell, ’51, Nathanial Penrose, Jr., ’55, Phyllis Penrose Bignold, ’56, and Margaret Penrose Harrell, ’59.

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