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Dr. O’dell Owens, longtime Cincinnati health leader, dies at 74

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Longtime Cincinnati health leader Dr. O’dell Moreno Owens died Wednesday. He was 74 years old. He was just two weeks shy of his 75th birthday. Owens is remembered by many as a trailblazer and community giant. He made a career of public service. Among many prominent positions he held over the years, he served as Hamilton County coroner, president of Cincinnati State and medical director of the Cincinnati Health Department. Owens was a pioneer in medicine. He established the University of Cincinnati’s in vitro fertilization program and achieved Cincinnati’s first successful conception and delivery, as well as the first pregnancy from a frozen embryo. Owens graduated from Woodward High School. Proving some of his teachers wrong, he went on to graduate college, obtain a master’s degree from Yale University and complete a reproductive endocrinology fellowship at Harvard Medical School. “In the ninth grade, I was told by a college counselor after flunking out of Walnut Hills that I was too poor and too dumb to go to college,” Owens told WLWT in 2021. “No one should put you in a box. No one should write you off.”Cincinnati City Manager Sheryl Long ordered all flags be lowered to half-staff in remembrance of Owens. Interact for Health for more than four years before retiring. The organization released a statement about Owens passing on Wednesday afternoon. “The staff and Board of Interact for Health are deeply saddened by the death of Dr. O’dell Owens, our former President and CEO. We extend our condolences to his wife Marchelle, and children Christopher, Justin and Morgan.Dr. Owens took care of our community from cradle to grave. He was a trailblazer, a leader, a friend and a mentor to many. During his four and a half years at Interact for Health, Dr. Owens worked to improve access to health care via school- based health centers, reduce tobacco use, address the opioid epidemic and improve health equity in the region. His contributions to the foundation were part of a long career to improve health in Greater Cincinnati. He will be deeply missed, and his legacy will continue to inspire work for years to come.”In August of last year, a mural of Dr. Owens was dedicated at the CET building in the West End.In March, WLWT sat down with Owens for an episode of Let’s Talk Cincy to discuss Owens’ goal of being an agent of social change through medicine here and education. (You can watch that conversation in the video player below.)Owens told Courtis Fuller during that conversation, “I’ve worked in the community yet I always wondered have I done enough. Have I done enough? So it just came to a point that I said ‘yes, you have. And it’s time to take care of O’dell.'”He retired in 2021.The Hamilton County Coroner’s Office released a statement about the passing of Dr. Owen saying, “We are truly saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Dr. Odell Owens. During his more than 5 years as coroner he continued his life’s mission of positively impacting the lives of young people by encouraging them to stay in school, seek higher education and make good social choices. His legacy within the Cincinnati community is without question, and his impact will continue.”Owens’ daughter, Morgan, shared the following statement with WLWT’s Courtis Fuller, “My dad was everything. My family and I are at a loss. My father gave so much to this world, his life long mission was to m ake a difference. He certainly did. He touched so many lives, Dad your legacy will live on. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers.”Sen. Rob Portman (R) wrote on Twitter: “Jane and I are heartbroken to learn of the passing of our good friend Dr. O’dell Owens. O’dell was a giant in the Cincinnati health care community and he will be missed tremendously.”Owens retired in 2021.This is a developing story and will be updated.

Longtime Cincinnati health leader Dr. O’dell Moreno Owens died Wednesday. He was 74 years old.

He was just two weeks shy of his 75th birthday.

Owens is remembered by many as a trailblazer and community giant. He made a career of public service. Among many prominent positions he held over the years, he served as Hamilton County coroner, president of Cincinnati State and medical director of the Cincinnati Health Department.

Owens was a pioneer in medicine. He established the University of Cincinnati’s in vitro fertilization program and achieved Cincinnati’s first successful conception and delivery, as well as the first pregnancy from a frozen embryo.

Owens graduated from Woodward High School. Proving some of his teachers wrong, he went on to graduate college, obtain a master’s degree from Yale University and complete a reproductive endocrinology fellowship at Harvard Medical School.

“In the ninth grade, I was told by a college counselor after flunking out of Walnut Hills that I was too poor and too dumb to go to college,” Owens told WLWT in 2021. “No one should put you in a box. No one should write you off.”

Cincinnati City Manager Sheryl Long ordered all flags be lowered to half-staff in remembrance of Owens.

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This content is imported from Twitter. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval tweeted out the following in response to today’s tragic news.

This content is imported from Twitter. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Owens also served as the president and CEO of Interact for Health for more than four years before retiring.

The organization released a statement about Owens passing on Wednesday afternoon.

“The staff and Board of Interact for Health are deeply saddened by the death of Dr. O’dell Owens, our former President and CEO. We extend our condolences to his wife Marchelle, and children Christopher, Justin and Morgan.

Dr. Owens took care of our community from cradle to grave. He was a trailblazer, a leader, a friend and a mentor to many. During his four and a half years at Interact for Health, Dr. Owens worked to improve access to health care via school-based health centers, reduce tobacco use, address the opioid epidemic and improve health equity in the region. His contributions to the foundation were part of a long career to improve health in Greater Cincinnati. He will be deeply missed, and his legacy will continue to inspire work for years to come.”

In August of last year, a mural of Dr. Owens was dedicated at the CET building in the West End.

In March, WLWT sat down with Owens for an episode of Let’s Talk Cincy to discuss Owens’ goal of being an agent of social change through medicine and education.

(You can watch that conversation in the video player below.)


Owens told Courtis Fuller during that conversation, “I’ve worked in the community yet I always wondered have I done enough. Have I done enough? So it just came to a point that I said ‘yes, you have. And it’s time to take care of O’dell.'”

He retired in 2021.

The Hamilton County Coroner’s Office released a statement about the passing of Dr. Owen saying, We are truly saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Dr. Odell Owens. During his more than 5 years as coroner he continued his life’s mission of positively impacting the lives of young people by encouraging them to stay in school, seek higher education and make good social choices. His legacy within the Cincinnati community is without question, and his impact will continue.”

This content is imported from Twitter. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Owens’ daughter, Morgan, shared the following statement with WLWT’s Courtis Fuller, “My dad was everything. My family and I are at a loss. My father gave so much to this world, his life long mission was to make a difference. He certainly did. He touched so many lives, Dad your legacy will live on . Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R) wrote on Twitter: “Jane and I are heartbroken to learn of the passing of our good friend Dr. O’dell Owens. O’dell was a giant in the Cincinnati health care community and he will be missed tremendously. “

Owens retired in 2021.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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