Official Obituary of

Katherine Owens

March 3, 1935 ~ October 3, 2023 (age 88) 88 Years Old

Katherine Owens Obituary

Katherine Owens age 88 passed away October 3rd. She is survived by her son Brian Owens. A memorial service is planned for Friday, October 27th at the Community of Christ Troy Oaks Congregation at 11 am. The church is located at 3830 Crooks Road Troy, Mi. Between Wattles and Big Beaver.

Katherine J. Owens was born in Pontiac, Michigan to Clarence R. Frisby and Pauline Frisby (Pauline McCaughan) in 1935. As a teenager, her father had traveled alone in the Great Migration from the deep south (to escape conditions he declined to describe) to find opportunities in the north.  In Pauline's youth, she pursued her dream: To become a professional musician, working at the highest levels available to classically trained African Americans at that time.  One parent was a intense, analytical, curious skilled tradesman; cold on the surface, but with deep empathy for the poor and the abused. The other was warm, given to making new friends, deeply spiritual and forgiving. 

Katherine Owens was the product of opposites, who came of age in Detroit - a city of opposites with enormous industrial capacity and opportunities for work. But her education came first. She attended Graceland College, then returned home to complete her bachelors degree at Wayne State University.  This was at a time when roughly 1 out of 5 college students were women and some schools put quotas on how many they would accept.  She then became a music teacher in the Detroit public school system, married artist Carl C. Owens and had two children.  Katherine returned to teaching music out of necessity when the marriage ended in the late sixties.  Her career began at the public schools beset with problems that were staggering even by today's metrics.  Slowly, she acquired a reputation for excellence and completed her career at Detroit School of Arts, earning the highest level of compensation possible for an educator who is not an administrator.  An early retirement allowed her to center her life around the thing that held the greatest meaning of all:  Her church and her work for it. 

Church Life:

As a child, Katherine Owens and her parents migrated from Pontiac, Michigan to Detroit.  They attended the Community of Christ Congregation located in Highland Park.  With her vocal excellence and the spirit of discipline she directed the Highland Park choir singing Hymns and Spirituals.  Her gifts and talents were recognized and appreciated.  Katherine received invitations to sing at numerous Weddings and Stake Conferences.  Her spiritual growth and ministry developed a sense of trust, transparency, and confidence.  People found comfort sharing their joys and pains because she was humble, loving and willing to devote her life to Christ and become fully immersed in the servant life of Christ by serving others.  Katherine was called to the priesthood and served as an Evangelist. 

Professional Musicians Affiliations:

*The Brazeal Dennard Chorale, founded by Dr. Brazeal Dennard in 1972. It is one of the longest standing organized choral groups in the country.  The mission of the founder is to remember, discover, and preserve the spiritual music of the African American experience and culture.  Katherine sang with the chorale group highlighting music from Jazz to Broadway and beyond.

*The National Association of Negro Musicians Inc. This is a historic organization in the United States dedicated to preservation, encouragement and advocacy of all genres of music of the African American Community. 


She is survived by her two children, Brian R. Owens, an artist who lives in central Florida, Tau M. Owens, a musician who lives in Detroit and Jamila Owens, her grandaughter. 

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Memorial Service
October 27, 2023

11:00 AM
Community of Christ, Troy Oaks Congregation
3830 Crooks
Troy, MI 48098


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