A product of Christian education at Abilene Christian College, Ralph E. “Doc” Owens was forever enthusiastic about his beloved Oklahoma Christian College. He aspired for every student to have the same experience he had enjoyed years before in Abilene, where he played for the football team, received a sound education and met and married his wife, Roma.
Elected to Oklahoma Christian’s Board of Trustees in 1957, Doc Owens worked tirelessly with Dr. George Benson and Dr. James Baird to advance the college’s reputation. He was one of three members of a pivotal committee that made the recommendation for the college to move from Bartlesville to a larger metropolitan base. His leadership came at a crucial time in Oklahoma Christian’s brief history.
Ralph and Roma Owens were among the first wave of supporters to embrace the college upon its move to Oklahoma City in 1958. They spent weekends planting grass and building flowerbeds on the barren prairie that was selected as the site for the new campus. Because of their influence on the grassroots level at Southwest Church of Christ, where Ralph served as an elder, and among the community where he was a prominent podiatrist, many of their friends became members of the Booster Club or the Oklahoma Christian Women’s Association.
In 1967, following the untimely death of trustee chairman G.A. Hale and the brief interim chairmanship of J.E. Wright, Doc Owens was named head of the Board of Trustees. He served in that role for 12 years, spanning the last seven years of James O. Baird’s presidency and the first five years of J. Terry Johnson’s presidency. A man of large stature, Doc Owens was a kind but intimidating figure behind the chairman’s gavel.