Harold H. (Hal) Owen Jr., also of Matinicus Island, passed away peacefully July 18, 2019, of self-described “high mileage.” He was 94. His five children were present to see him off on his next adventure.

Born Nov. 18, 1924, in New York City, the eldest child of Louise (Lulu) Guyol and Harold (Red) Holmes Owen Sr. They later returned to the Concord, N.H., area, where Hal attended school until heading to Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., for high school, graduating in 1943. Following Andover, he served in the Army as a staff sargent in post-war Germany and Japan from 1943 to 1946. Though he spoke little of those years, he brought his humor, intelligence and writing skills with him, starting a newspaper for the troops there. He later attended and graduated from Amherst College on the G.I. bill, then received his master’s degree in English at the University of New Hampshire.

On Sept. 9, 1950, he married Sally Wilson George, also of Concord, N.H., then honeymooned on Matinicus Island, which began a lifelong commitment to the island community there. Hal and Sal were married for 54 years before her death in 2004. He began his teaching career at Proctor Academy, then in 1955 they moved to Andover, Mass., when Hal accepted a teaching position at Phillips Academy, raising their five children on campus there.

A gifted, passionate and highly respected teacher, he taught English and theater there for 36 years until his retirement in 1991. He was thrilled to be behind the formation of the department of theater and dance, serving as its first chair, and he was especially proud of his role in creating a coed summer session in the 1960s. Coeducation at Andover was one of his many passions, and he proudly helped usher in that era. He had many friends at Andover and was recognized as a progressive thinker, quick to adapt to the times. In 1971 he took his family to France while he taught English with School Year Abroad for the academic year. This, of course, instilled in his family a lifelong appreciation for good food and French culture.

Upon retirement, Hal and Sal relocated to Camden, to be closer to Matinicus and the community they loved there. He stayed active in theater, acting and directing with the Camden Civic Theater, as well as with the Belfast Maskers. When he wasn’t directing, acting, writing poetry and plays, singing or doing the crossword puzzle, he could be found puttering in his workshop or contemplating fractals.

A man who loved words and wordplay, he could pluck a poem out of the air to recite by heart for any given occasion. He disliked pretense and pomp and always had the good intention, if not the follow-through, to return a letter. At his 80th surprise birthday party, he sensed that the guests in attendance were all owed a letter. He was a man of numerous talents, who relished the opportunity for a clever exchange, a game of chess, or word games, cheating at Bananagrams (to the delight of his grandchildren), and winning at poker while barely checking his cards.

He tossed his cane aside to dance a jig at his 90th birthday. For the last eight years of his life, he resided at what was the Camden Hills Villa before it became Bella Point, where he often said he was “spoiled rotten,” soaking up the love and attention his caretakers heaped on him. His family deeply appreciates their efforts.

He will be deeply missed by his five children, who loved him very much, Caitlin Hunter of Appleton, Abbie Read of Appleton, Matt Owen of Camden, Skip Owen of Mount Desert Island and Megan Owen of Bristol; as well as by his seven grandchildren. In addition to his children he is survived by a younger brother, Derek Owen, of Hopkinton, N.H., and a younger sister, Megan Yost, of Bridgeport, Conn.

A memorial gathering is planned for the future on Matinicus Island. Stay tuned. Cards and memories may be sent to the Owen family, P.O. Box 1038, Camden, ME 04843.