Evelyn Owens


John P. Blaska
Jerome A. Owens
J. M. Blaska
Rose F. Blaska
Elizabeth R Blaska
Jerome L. Blaska
Cyril J. Blaska
Evelyn Owens
Gregory Blaska
Lila Blaska LaBarro
Orvin E. Walsvik
Paul A. Rietbrock
Francis B. Blaska
Bill Ostrowsky, Jr.
Burdette M. Blaska
Laura M. Blaska
Tony Blaschka
Frederich J. Stohl
Jerry Fisher


Evelyn Blaska Owens

The Capital Times
Sun Prairie - Evelyn Blaska Owens, social work pioneer, teacher, civic leader and parent, died on Wednesday, April 24, 2002, at age 91, at Attic Angel Place, Madison. 
     Evelyn was born in the town of Sun Prairie on July 4, 1910, the daughter of John M and Rose (Schuster) Blaska. 
    She was married to Jerome A. Owens an Sept. 3, 1938 in Sun Prairie.  He was killed piloting a small aircraft on July 15, 1946, leaving Evelyn to raise two small children alone. 
    Evelyn graduated from Mount Mary College, Milwaukee, in 1931 with a bachelor of arts degree in social science.  She received her master's degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1952. 
    In the darkest days of the Great Depression, Evelyn Owens was a virtual "one-person social work agency," beginning in 1931 with the Dane County Outdoor Relief Department, then until 1942 for its successor agency, the Dane County Department of Public Assistance, except for two years as a juvenile court probation officer, Evelyn would pack her car early in the morning with food, clothing and funds and then drive around the county distributing hope and comfort, 
    To this day, the UW School of Social Work, in conjunction with the Dane County Department of Human Services, presents an annual award in her name for commitment and dedication.
     Evelyn Owens worked for the state Public Welfare Department finding foster and adoptive homes for children from 1946 to 1952, at which time she became assistant superintendent of the Wisconsin School  for Girls, Oregon. 

    In 1960 she joined the faculty of the School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was an associate professor and associate director from 1972 until her retirement in 1976, when she attained emeritus status.  There, she helped start one of the first field placement programs in the country.  Recognizing that many of the social work cases stemmed from alcohol abuse,
    Evelyn found that there was no formal help outside of mental institutions and jails.  She set about changing that in 1967 with the formation of the first of many Rebos Halfway Houses in Madison.
    Later, she was instrumental in setting up Dane County's detoxification center.  Her concern predated federal recognition and funding for drug and alcohol treatment. 
    She was appointed to three four-year terms by two governors to the state Citizens' Advisory Council on Alcohol and other Drugs, (AODA).  She was also a member of the state Health Council Categorical Review Committee, a member of the state Department of Public Instruction Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs, and chairman of the state Planning Committee for Alcohol and Other Drugs. 
    She was honored with the National Catholic Educational Association's Distinguished Graduate Award for her accomplishments in helping others. 
    Evelyn was also active in many Sun Prairie activities.  She chaired the Colonial Club board of directors, was a former president of the Twentieth Century Club, charter member of the Sun Prairie Civic Theater, was a member of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary parish, of its church council, and was a former president of its St. Ann's Alter Society. 
    Survivors include two children, Kathryn Walsvik (Orvin) of Monona, and Robert (Marilyn) Owens of Woodruff; and grandchildren, Gretchen Stohl, Heidi (Chris) Gill, Kara Stohl, Robert Owens Jr., Mark Owens, Tim Owens, Kathy Walsvik, Tammy Kruzan, Jimalee (Bill) Binn, Valerie (Gary) Klein, and Storm (Penny) Walsvik. 
    She is further survived by three sisters, Lila Blaska LaBarro, Sun Prairie, Burdette Blaska, Madison, and Elaine Blaska Wood, McFarland; and a brother, Gregory (Laura) Blaska of Sun Prairie. 
    In addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by brothers, Cyril J. Blaska, Jerome L. Blaska and John J. Blaska; and a sister, Juanita Blaska. 
    A funeral Mass will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 27, 2002, at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Catholic Church, 227 Columbus St., Sun Prairie, with Monsignor Duane Moellenberndt presiding. 
    Burial will be in Sacred Hearts Cemetery.  A visitation will be held on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until the time of the service at Tuschen-Newcomer Funeral Home, 302 Columbus St. San Prairie.

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