Randall Lowell Owens died this week, and Itawamba County lost a good man. Cousin Randall was born June 8, 1919 in the Mud Creek community of northern Itawamba County. He was the second child born to James Alfred Owens and Effie Eugeana Johnson; his sister, Dovie, was the oldest of their four children. Born after Randall were his brother Marquis and sister Catherine.
Randall joined the Army's Air Corps in 1942 following the bombing of Pearl Harbor the preceding December. After several weeks of training in airplane mechanics at Keesler Field on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Randall was specially selected to join pilot's school in Texas. In December 1942, the Fulton News Beacon reported that two "aviation cadets" from Itawamba County graduated from the pre-flight school in San Antonio: Randall L. Owens and Royce H. Franks. Unfortunately a severe bout with malaria prevented Randall from completing the rest of his pilot training, and he spent many months in the hospital.
Mike's earliest memories of his flat-topped, square-shouldered cousin were from the Johnson family annual reunions in the early 1960's. Randall had a playful smile and delighted in telling stories about mules and outlaws and kin-folk from the turn of the century and even earlier. He was a kind man with a keen wit and genuine love of the good people who lived up the "North Road." And he was a stout Republican who never failed to give President Roosevelt full credit for shutting down his father's saw mill in the Depression.
Randall was a precocious child who listened to the old ones as a child and was a link to the lore and myths of the early settlements of old Itawamba. Much of our past passed with him in his death.
Goodbye old friend.