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Knoxville photographer Clay Owen passes away suddenly 2.3.09
Patrick Murphy-Racey, Photographer
Powell | TN | USA | Posted: 6:56 AM on 02.04.09
->> A great Son of the state of Kentucky, Clay Owen was a friend to many, especially to those who got to work alongside him at newspapers in Lexington, KY and at the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Clay died with the great love of his life, Jackie, at his side. He will be missed by photographers who knew his gentle laugh, boyish chuckle, and his deep love of making pictures. Clay was possibly the most gentle person I have ever known.

Please find this blog to offer your own thoughts, memories, & prayers:

thanks for taking the time... Jackie will appreciate your efforts, pm-r
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Jason R. Davis, Photographer
Knoxville | TN | USA | Posted: 7:31 AM on 02.04.09
->> Our prayers are with his family this morning.

Clay will be missed by many. I've know Clay for the 6 years I've lived in Knoxville. He gave me freelance opportunities with the News-Sentinel, and sent countless freelance jobs to me. Those jobs really helped me get a foot hold here in Knoxville and kept me from getting discouraged. He always had a smile and good things to say. I am thankful for crossing paths with him.
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Wes Hope, Photographer
Maryville | TN | USA | Posted: 10:33 AM on 02.04.09
->> Clay was a great man. He will be sadly missed.
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Wes Hope, Photographer
Maryville | TN | USA | Posted: 12:46 PM on 02.04.09
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 2:01 PM on 02.04.09
->> How very sad for his family and friends to lose him at such a young age.

We as photographers are poor for this loss.
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Daryl Sullivan, Photo Editor, Photographer
Maryville | TN | USA | Posted: 2:07 PM on 02.04.09
->> I was stunned when I heard of his passing this morning. He was a great guy, always easy going and never an unkind word to anyone. I'll miss the chats we had when we ran into each other on assignment. My heart goes out to Jackie and their families.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 2:52 PM on 02.04.09
->> I'm sorry I never knew Clay, he really sounds like a great guy. My condolences to his wife and family.

Now, as someone who had a heart attack and was blessed and lucky enough to survive, I need to say the following:

Take care of yourselves. Get that checkup you've been avoiding. Start that long promised exercise program ( I treadmill 4-6 times a week..including this morning), and change your diet. You'll be a healthier and happier human being, photographer, and your loved ones will have the greatest gift of all : YOU.

I didn't mean to go off on a tangent, but...

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Chad Greene, Photographer, Photo Editor
Knoxville | TN | USA | Posted: 4:09 PM on 02.04.09
->> Clay was one of the nicest people you could ever meet, just genuinely nice and he will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
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Patrick Murphy-Racey, Photographer
Powell | TN | USA | Posted: 10:12 PM on 02.04.09
->> there is nothing set in stone as of yet, but the tentative plan is to have a visitation of friends in Paris, KY (near Lexington) on Saturday evening, then have a second one with a Funeral Mass in Louisville on Sunday, with the burial following on Monday morning in Louisville, KY. Please stay tuned to a more official and set in stone time frame. I will post the actual dates, times, and locations with maps here as well as on the blog that I set up as well:

I spent the better part of the day with Jackie, her Mom and sister, and then with Clay's Mom and Dad and his sister and her husband today. All day long the phone rang off the hook, people came by with food, and we would vacillate between laughing at each others stories about Clay to crying quietly at the more difficult moments.

I miss my friend Clay as I know many of you do too. I keep thinking that he would love to be a part of all this, and then I remember that he is...

peace, pm-r
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Joe Gosen, Photographer
Ventura | CA | USA | Posted: 10:36 PM on 02.04.09
->> Clay was such a nice guy. I was sad to read this news. Thanks for notifying us Patrick.
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Patrick Murphy-Racey, Photographer
Powell | TN | USA | Posted: 4:29 PM on 02.05.09
->> visitation services, memorial services, and internment details at:
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Patrick Murphy-Racey, Photographer
Powell | TN | USA | Posted: 10:20 PM on 02.08.09
->> As some of you know, I used to be a newspaper photographer. The last paper I worked for years ago was the Knoxville News-Sentinel where I joined the photography staff in 1989. After I worked there for about a year, a new guy was hired. He was a hot young shooter just having been an intern at the LA times and the Philly Enquirer. I knew him by reputation from the NPPA clip contest, which used to be important for me back then. Anyway, this guy was a good ole' country boy from Kentucky who learned how to shoot at UK up in Lexington and his name was Clay Owen.

Clay was a big guy with a little infectious laugh and we became fast friends. He'd walk in the door and start every sentence with "weeeeel?..." and then tell you what was on hims mind.
For instance, he might say, "weeel pm-r? What's the plan for lunch today?..." but it would be like 8:15am. Or he might be looking over a light table trying to pick an image from his take and say, "Weeel pm-r, Gee (he really used that word, and 'nifty' too), I wonder if you'd take a lookseee here at these images (but he's it would come out 'imuges'). Clay always got me smiling just by the way he spoke.

Other than photography, we also had a love of motorcycles in common, and once we figured that out, we'd talk all the time about bikes and riding. I would talk about new modern bikes and Clay would talk only about the various dirt bikes he had ridden as a kid. Clay loved jumped dirt bikes and pulled monster wheelies all the time. His Dad told me a story the other day about him pulling a wheelie that he rode for 175' down a country road in front of his whole family. For those of you that don't ride, it's hard to understand the draw to something so dangerous but take my word for it, it's awesome for those of us that do. Nothing can get you out of a bad mood faster than hoppin' on a two wheeled machine, firing up the engine, dropping it into first, and letting out the clutch with 100 HP between your legs. Anyway, I digress...

Thing is, Clay gave it all up flat one day. His sweetie Jackie pretty much laid down the law and told Clay that if they were going to be together, then the bikes and riding had to go. As far as I know, he never got on a bike again. I offered him a ride a few times but he always declined. Smiling real big, he said, "Weeeeel pm-r, (hee, hee) it sure would be fun, but I don't think I'd better, "and if Jackie found out, weeeel..."

I've known Clay ever since he and Jackie moved to Knoxville seventeen years ago. We drifted apart when I left the newspaper in 1992, but we were always happy to see each other at UK-UT games and at events with Catholic Charities.

He sent me a message on Facebook the other day. "Hey pm-r, let's get together for lunch, just you and me, so we can catch up and talk about video. - Clay" Clay became addicted to Facebook in recent weeks, and was madly scanning photos of friends and putting them online.

Sadly, he got busy at work the day we were supposed to meet and had to postpone to the next week, and then one thing to another... you know how it is, and so we never really firmed up our meeting. Last Tuesday, Clay got off work, went to work out, and returned home. He walked in the door, complained to Jackie that he had heartburn, and sat down on the couch. Within a short few minutes, God took him home to heaven with Jackie frantic at his side. My heart is broken because Clay's gave out, not that I'm surprised. Clay was a big guy and like most of us, he needed to lose a few pounds, but I think his heart gave out because he worked his more than the rest of us. He was a gentle soul; a ten-year-old kid that never gave up his love of fishing, GI-Joe, Batman, and his boyhood hero, Evel Knievel..

I swear I never heard Clay swear in all the time I've known him. He didn't drink or smoke but the dude had all kinds of fun. While I saw him frustrated from time to time, I never saw him get angry or shout ever. He always had a kind word for people and that big heart of his just gave and gave to all of us till it could give no more.

Early tomorrow morning, I will climb on my trusty steed before dawn, and make my way North on I-75 into the Bluegrass state, hang a left in Lexington, and ride on to Louisville, where Clay's family and his many friends will celebrate his life in the context of a memorial service, and lay him to rest. I'm not sure if the ride there will be easier or harder than the ride back, but I'm riding no matter what. I will pray in thanksgiving for all the time I got to spend with him, all the laughs we shared together, and thank God that he was a part of my life. I will invite him to join me in the pre-dawn hours. We'll watch the sunrise together, coming up through the old mountains as we'll trace the path he knew so well: back home to Kentucky and beyond, one last time.

Call a friend today you know you should. Don't pass that person as you scroll through your contacts on your phone this week. Reach out and touch the people that have touched you this week because you never know when one of us will get a case of heartburn.

Last, if you have a spare minute when you read this, please offer up a prayer for Jackie who has her plate full trying to cope, understand, grieve, and figure out what to do with all that love she has for Clay who is gone for a while. Pray also for Clay's Mom and Dad. Parents aren't supposed to bury their kids and so keep Clay Sr. and Betty in your prayers as well. - pm-r
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Thread Title: Knoxville photographer Clay Owen passes away suddenly 2.3.09
Thread Started By: Patrick Murphy-Racey
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