Vergil L. Owen (8003)
Father: Edgar "Ed" Owen
Mother: Nellie Roberts
b. November 17, 1932 in Gridley, Butte County,
d. January 8, 2001 in Gilroy, California
m. December 25, 1951 in Gridley, California,
Frankie Geneva Robinson Terri
m2. Delores A. "Annie", b. October 2, 1947
Vergil spent his early years working on his parents'
rice and cattle ranch with summer hunting and fishing trips to Chester.
When he was 16, Vergil soloed in a
biplane Stearman crop duster on his father's ranch. Terri
Hoping to become a pilot, the
Navy instead made him a welder and he served on the USS Ajax, a repair ship
that worked on other vessels damaged during the war.
After the War:
Vergil went to work for
AeroJet in Sacramento where he welded titanium and thigh-tensile alloys used
for spacecraft. His welding brand is on display on the first Titan rockets
launched into space at the Smithsonian. Terri
With little other than his friend Tim
Smith, Vergil launched the All Weld Machine and Fabrication Company in San
Jose, California. They performed difficult jobs and were soon making machines
for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and doing contracts for NASA.
Vergil developed an interest in midget racers and
later sprint cars. He liked to build them and tinker with their engines to get
the best performance. Terri
Vergil's Sprint Car No. 14 the "Apple
Annie Special" with Tim Green at the wheel won the California State
Vergil and a pilot friend flew
his Beech Bonanza from California to Eastern Canada and back visiting 15 states
and a province along the way. Terri