BATAVIA — Gov. Kathy Hochul has added her voice to the many mourning longtime city resident Jim Owen.
Owen, as he was more than happy to tell people, was Hochul’s typing teacher when she attended Hamburg High School in the 1970s.
“Jim Owen had a profound impact on me, my siblings and countless others as a teacher and coach at Hamburg Central Schools,” Hochul said Saturday. “Always upbeat and encouraging, I was proud to call him a friend later in life and I will always remember our conversations, including earlier this fall and shortly before he passed. I am thankful to have known Mr. Owen and I send my deepest condolences to his family, friends and all who knew him – he will be dearly missed.”
Owen died Thursday after battling cancer. He was beloved in the Batavia community as a long-serving teacher, substitute teacher and the unofficial “Mayor of Redfield Parkway.”
Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, touched on Owen and Hochul’s friendship Saturday during the Genesee Valley School Board Association’s annual legislative leadership breakfast, while discussing the importance of making connections. He noted the pair didn’t necessarily share the same political outlook but their friendship was beyond that.
“She would call him every once in awhile,” he said. “She called him when she ascended to governor. So there was a relationship from way back then to now.
“Jim Owen was kind of a conservative guy but he loved her as an individual,” he said. “And because of that relationship of being her teacher, it stayed all of those years.” Hawley noted his own Hochul’s sending an email to Owen when the Frank E. Owen auditorium was named in his honor at Batavia High School, along with another call she made when he was in hospice care, which raised his spirits.
Owen’s funeral service is set for Saturday.