Tony Owens Jr. entered eternal rest on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, at Palmetto Health Tuomey.
He was born on April 21, 1937, in Anderson County, to the late Andrew Tony Owens and Lillie Rachel Anderson Owens. Tony joined Mt. Able Baptist Church at an early age and later joined Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church (JMBC), where he continued his service until his passing.
He attended Spearman Public Schools in Anderson County and enlisted in the U.S. Army on Feb. 28, 1955, and served through Sept. 30, 1956. He was placed on temporary leave of duty due to an illness and during his leave of absence, he returned to Spearman County Public Schools to complete his high school diploma. He graduated in 1959. He was officially honorably discharged on Sept. 1, 1961. He enrolled at Morris College and while attending, he embarked on his first business adventure, Owens Pest Control. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in education in 1966 and went on to teach at Alcolu Elementary School in Clarendon County for a short while. Tony always aspired to be an entrepreneur. A & T Auto Sales was established on Manning Avenue in the city of Sumter and had been an intricate part of the Sumter community for more than 50 years. He was affectionately known as "Pop," "Mr. T." and "Big Man" but he was also known as husband, daddy, uncle, grandpa and friend. Because he lived, many of us had better days and better lives. He loved being able to help people and was a true example of Hebrews 13:16, "And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
He received a certificate of recognition from the S.C. House of Representatives District 51 for "distinguished contributions to the Economic Development of the South Sumter Community" and also a certificate of stewardship from Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church.
He was married to Wilhelmenia Emanuel Owens for 57 years.
He is also survived by two children, Antonio "Squeaky" Owens and Karen Owens (Bernard) Blanding, both of Sumter. He is also survived by three sisters, Amanda Moreland of Warner Robins, Georgia, Amelia (Stanley) Evans of Pelzer and Rachel (Kirby) Riley of Easley; three brothers, Bobby (Gwendolyn) Owens of Pelzer, Joe Nathan (Shirley) Owens of Los Angeles and Cecil (Carolyn) Owens of Williamston.
Proud memories will also remain with his grandchildren, Cornelius "Alex" Blanding, Cordell Blanding, Camron "Red" Blanding, Deneeka Brunson, Antonia Owens, Courtney Owens, Antonette Rubin, Tedric Owens, Tevin Owens, Ashleigh Harriott, Janell Heyward, Jaquan Heyward and Lashonda Holmes; a host of nieces, nephews, great-grandchildren and friends of the community.
He was preceded in death by one brother, John David "JD" Owens; and five sisters, Sara Owens Rodman, Patsy Owens Howard, Linda Owens-Cheeks, Olive Faye Owens Salazar and Mary Lois Owens Davis.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like to have donations made to the building fund for Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church in memory of Tony. Make checks payable to Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church and mail to 803 S. Harvin St., Sumter, SC 29150.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. today at Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church with the pastor, the Rev. Dr. Marion H. Newton, officiating. Interment will follow at Hillside Memorial Park.
The family will be receiving friends at 51 Albert Spears Drive, Sumter.
Job's Mortuary Inc., 312 S. Main St., Sumter, is in charge of arrangements.