Owen Williams ’48

Owen died on June 1, 2017. He was the third of five children of famed National Geographic photographer and writer (and K alumnus, class of 1910) Maynard Owen Williams. At K Owen majored in history and trained in the U.S. Marine Corps ROTC. He later earned a master’s degree from George Washington University. During World War II Owen enlisted in the Navy and served in the Pacific from 1944 to 1945. After the war he returned to Kalamazoo and graduated from K in 1948. He began a long career in mapping, charting, geodesy and terrestrial sciences during which he served all four military branches and the department of defense. His work, in concert with the effort of scientists around the world, culminated in the deployment of the Global Positioning System (GPS). In 1981 he was awarded the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award. Owen had a special talent for building international scientific partnerships that overcame barriers through research and development. These teams increased humankind’s understanding of the earth’s geodesy, gravity and geophysics. After retirement, Owen and his wife of 65 years, Betty Lou Williams, enjoyed connecting with family that included their five children and many grandkids and great-grandkids.