Odell Owens Obituary: Cincinnati Health Leader Dies at Age 74

Dr O’dell Moreno Owens, a long-time leader in health care in Cincinnati, died on Wednesday. He had lived for 74 years.  He was only two weeks away from turning 75.

Owens is remembered by many as a leader and a prominent figure in the community. He worked for the government his whole life. Over the years, he held many important jobs, such as coroner for Hamilton County, president of Cincinnati State University, and medical director for the Cincinnati Health Department.

Owens was a medical pioneer. He started the in vitro fertilisation programme at the University of Cincinnati and got his first successful pregnancy and birth in Cincinnati. He also got his first pregnancy from a frozen embryo.

Owens went to high school at Woodward. He went on to finish college, get a master’s degree from Yale University, and finish a fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Harvard Medical School, showing some of his teachers that they were wrong.

Owens told WLWT in 2021, “After I failed out of Walnut Hills in the ninth grade, a college counsellor told me I was too poor and too dumb to go to college.” “You shouldn’t be put in a box. Nobody should give up on you.”

In honour of Owens, Cincinnati City Manager Sheryl Long told all flags to fly at half-staff. In response to today’s sad news, Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval sent the following tweet.

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Before his retirement, Owens spent more than four years as president and CEO of Interact for Health.

On Wednesday afternoon, the group stated Owens’ passing.

“The death of Dr O’dell Owens, our former President and CEO, deeply saddens the staff and Board of Interact for Health. We condolences to his wife Marchelle and children Christopher, Justin and Morgan.

Dr Owens took care of our community from the cradle to the grave. He was a trailblazer, a leader, a friend and a mentor to many. During his four and a half years at Interact for Health, Dr Owens worked to improve access to health care via school-based health centres, reduce tobacco use, address the opioid epidemic and improve health equity in the region. His contributions to the foundation were part of a long career to improve health in Greater Cincinnati. He will be deeply missed, and his legacy will inspire work for years.”

At the CET building in the West End, a mural of Dr Owens was dedicated in August of last year.

In March, WLWT interviewed Owens for a Let’s Talk Cincy segment to learn more about his desire to use health and education as a tool for social change.

During that chat, Owens told Courtis Fuller, “I’ve worked in the community, but I’ve never felt like I’ve accomplished enough. Am I finished yet? As a result, I answered, “Yes, you have.” It’s now time to look after O’Dell.”

He left the job in 2021.

Dr Owen passed away, and the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office issued the following statement: We are truly saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Dr Odell Owens. During his more than 5 years as coroner, he continued his mission of positively impacting the lives of young people by encouraging them to stay in school, seek higher education and make good social choices. His legacy within the Cincinnati community is without question, and his impact will continue.”

Morgan Owens, Owens’s daughter, told WLWT’s Courtis Fuller the following:  “My dad was everything. My family and I are at a loss. My father gave so much to this world; his lifelong mission was to make a difference. He certainly did. He touched so many lives; Dad, your legacy will live on. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers.”

On Twitter, Republican Sen. Rob Portman wrote: “Jane and I are so sad to hear that our good friend Dr O’dell Owens has died. O’Dell was a big deal in the healthcare world in Cincinnati, and he will be missed a lot.”

Owens quit working in 2021.

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