The Leo Family lost one of its most accomplished, loyal and supportive members on Sunday, Sept. 29 when Tom Owens ’54 passed away after a long illness.

Tom was surrounded by family when he died, which was appropriate. His family—wife Mary, five children and 22 grandchildren—had always been the centerpiece of his truly distinguished life.

The recipient of the third Leo Lions Legacy Award for lifetime achievement in 2018, Tom was also a member of the Leo Hall of Fame, an Alumni Association Man of the Year and a former member of the Leo Advisory Board. An accountant by training and a computer industry pioneer, he was a highly regarded businessman, but business success was never as important to him as his many philanthropic commitments.

Leo was only one of several causes to which Tom devoted his time, talent and treasure. As founder of the Cara Program, Tom made it his life’s mission to tackle Chicago’s homelessness problem head-on. Through job training and life skills and relentlessly positive reinforcement, the Cara program has helped more than 6,000 people regain their footing and resume lives as responsible, productive citizens after dealing with homelessness, substance abuse and other social issues.

Tom’s work caught the attention of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, now Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who became a friend and at whose urging he began the Cara Program. A man of deep faith, he lived his life in accordance with the belief that “of those to whom much is given, much is expected.” 

“Tom was not just a great Leo Man, he was a great man, period,” Leo President Dan McGrath said. “I’m not sure there would be a Leo today if Tom hadn’t been such a strong, loyal and generous supporter. We owe him a debt of gratitude we can only repay by following Tom’s example of service to others. 

“The Leo family extends sincere condolences to the Owens family. We have lost a rare and exceptional gentleman.”

A wake for Tom will be held at Old St. Pat’s Church, 700 W. Adams, from 3-8 pm on Monday, Oct. 7. The funeral will be at Old St. Pat’s at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 8. 

Here is a remembrance of Tom, written by Bill Figel ’72 TomOwens