Manassas businessman a likely accident victim

By Jennifer Buske
Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nothing Creston Martin Owen did was small, so when he began leading efforts for the upcoming Civil War sesquicentennial anniversary, friends said they knew Manassas's commemoration would be one to remember.

A probable accident Tuesday, however, left friends and city officials with the task of carrying out next year's Civil War commemoration without the energetic, charismatic Manassas businessman by their side.

"When Creston took hold of something, he took it and just ran with it," said Debbie Haight, Historic Manassas director and Owen's friend. "Someone had said we'd just have a little battle on the battlefield next year, but we all knew that wasn't going to be the case with Creston, because when he had a thought or idea, it always became huge."

A family member found Owen, 45, dead in a detached garage adjacent to his Catlett home Tuesday evening. Fauquier County sheriff officials said Owen suffered a gunshot wound, and it appeared he might have been cleaning a firearm at the time. Lt. James Hartman, spokesman for the sheriff's department, said the shooting is being treated as an accident. An official cause of death won't be released until after an autopsy is completed.

"Creston was a force of nature for us," said Manassas City Council Vice Mayor Andrew L. Harrover, Owen's friend. "He touched a lot of different people, and his leadership was crucial to the success Manassas has enjoyed."

Although not a resident of Manassas, Owen invested many hours in the city, friends said. He was past president and current treasurer for the board of directors at Historic Manassas and spearheaded the planning for the city's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run. He was involved in the Rotary Club of Manassas, SERVE and was also a past chairman for what is now the Prince William Chamber of Commerce. And, for the past 15 years, he has been president and chief executive of Manassas-based Falcon Communications.

"He was involved in anything related to celebrating or promoting Manassas," said Rob Clapper, president of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce. "His passion, care and concern energized others . . . and the way he touched folks was through his involvement with promoting the community we all live and work in."

Haight, who has known Owen for 25 years, said Owen would ride a golf cart that was the "size of a Cadillac" during the Fall Jubilee, rail festival and other Manassas events. He would then head to the top floor of the parking garage in Old Town and look down proudly at all the people who were enjoying the city he loved.

Friends said Owen loved NASCAR racing, boating and operating Saturday Acres Farms, which he owned with his wife, Sharon, in Catlett. He also loved being a father to his two children, Ashley and Ryan.

Harrover said Owen had recently taken on a new fitness regimen - Wii fit. After the doctor said he needed to lose some weight for health reasons, Harrover said Owen began playing Wii every morning for an hour and was able to drop 100 pounds.

Although born in Memphis, Owen spent his childhood in Northern Virginia, where he attended Brentsville District High School and Lake Braddock High School. He majored in business and religion at Ferrum College.

A visitation for Owen will be Monday from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Baker-Post Funeral Home and Cremation Center, 10001 Nokesville Rd., in Manassas. Funeral services will be Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, 9750 Wellington Rd. A Facebook page, crestonmowenmemorial, has also been created.

"The . . . entire community is deeply saddened [by] the untimely loss of one of its most visible champions," Clapper said. "He will always be recognized for his dedication and passion to making his community the best it could be."

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