James "Jim" I. Owens
July 30, 1933 – November 28, 2019
Jim was born in Shelby County Alabama on July 30, 1933. At the age of three, his parents moved back to Empire in Walker County where he spent his formative years growing up. At the age of eight, he passed away on November 28, 2019 with his beloved wife of more than 62 years, Charlotte, and son, Jim at his side. Jim served in the US Army but he was attached to a special category in the US Air Force. He was a member of Asbury United Methodist Church. He earned a BS and MBA degree and attended the Executive Management Program at The Kennedy School at Harvard University. After college, he began a career with the Internal Revenue Service in Mobile, Alabama and later in Birmingham. Subsequently he was selected for positions with greater responsibility and moved to Maine, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri, Washington, DC, Texas and the back to Washington, DC. While in Dallas, Texas, he was the Regional Commissioner in charge of all federal tax administration in the Southwest US, Including Colorado and Wyoming. In 1981, he was appointed Deputy Commissioner, the highest career position in the IRS by the Secretary of the Treasury. He continued in this position for some six years until his retirement in 1988.
When the Commissioner of Internal Revenue was vacant, the Secretary of the Treasury appointed him Acting Commissioner of the IRS while waiting for the president to appoint and the Senate to confirm a new Commissioner. He traveled extensively throughout the US and some international travel while with the IRS, primarily as head of the US delegation for meetings with US tax treaty countries such as Japan, Australia, France, Germany, Canada, etc. Jim was very honored by the President, Ronald Reagan who presented him with the Presidential Meritorious Executive Service Award in 1981. In 1982 President, Reagan presented him with the Presidential Distinguished Executive Service Award during a ceremony at the White House.
Upon retirement from the US Treasury Department in 1988, Jim began a second career as an international tax consultant. He was a Senior Fellow at The International Tax Program at Harvard University, along with working in various countries via the Harvard Institute for International Development, International Institute for Advanced Studies in Cambridge, MA, the US Treasury and continued to work for the World Bank. He worked in the international field of taxation for some 22 years, which included teaching at Minister of Finance International Training Center in Taipei, Republic of China and special courses sponsored by Harvard. He also worked in Russia, Poland, Romania, Bosnia, Slovak and Czech Republic, Guyana, Republic of Georgia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Japan, Australia, Ukraine, Gaza and West Bank, Philippines, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Granada, Puerto Rico, Guyana. etc., and several countries in Africa such as Egypt, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, The Gambia, etc. He also served on the international oversight panel for tax administration for several years for a World Bank Project in the Ukraine.
Jim is survived by Charlotte (Bishop) the love of his life and wife of more than 62 years; son, James I. Owens, Jr; grandson, James I. Owens, III (Faith) and granddaughter, Anna Owens; great granddaughter, Hattie Jo Owens and a number of nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his father, Chester Lee and mother, Evola Owens; brothers, Luther B. and Chester Leon Owens and sisters-in-law, Norma Jean Owens, Barbara Williams and Faye D. Owens. He was asked from time to time about memorable events or places that he had the privilege to visit. The ones he mentioned most was Victoria Fall in Africa along with the first herd of elephants, pride of lions, visiting the prison and jail cell that Nelson Mandela was housed in so many years; Mt. Everest in Nepal one of the great wonders. Jim said he could not understand why anyone would want to climb to base camp two much less to the summit. He was also very moved when he visited Corregidor in the Philippines where General McArthur had his headquarters in the Malinta Tunnel and where he made his famous” I shall return speech”. Visiting the pyramids in Cairo, Egypt was a real treat for him including the visit to Jerusalem, the Old City, Manger Square and the Dead Sea. Although these are some highlights, he often said all is not well in the world and one is always moved by the poverty, lack of clean water and conditions in Africa and other countries.
For those close to him, they will know he lived by the credo, “keep a positive attitude, never stop learning, be happy in what you choose to do in life, and perform every task to the best of your ability”.
Graveside services will be held, Sunday, December 1st commencing at 1 o’clock in the afternoon at Elmwood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Asbury United Methodist Church, 6690 Cahaba Valley Rd, Birmingham, AL 35242 or to Spondylitis Association of America, 16360 Roscoe Blvd, Ste 100, Van Nuys, CA 91406.
- Charlotte Owens, Wife
- James I. Owens, Jr., Son
- James I. Owens, III, Grandson
- Anna Owens, Granddaughter
- Hattie Jo Owens, Great Granddaughter
- Chester Lee Owens, Father (deceased)
- Evola Cox Owens, Mother (deceased)
Asbury United Methodist Church
6690 Cahaba Valley Rd, Birmingham, Alabama 35242
Spondylitis Association of America
16360 Roscoe Blvd, Ste 100 , Van Nuys, CA 91406.
- Graveside Service Sunday, December 1, 2019