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Dannetta Thornton Owens, 80, former Birmingham school board member


Times staff report


Dannetta Thornton Owens, former president of the Birmingham Board of Education, died on December 15. She was 80.

She was at home surrounded by family when she passed on her birthday.

Mrs. Thornton Owens, who served on the Birmingham school board from 2002 to 2009, was born in Birmingham, AL on Dec. 15, 1938 to Daniel Kennon, Jr. and Verna Herron Kennon and was educated in the Birmingham public school system.

She graduated valedictorian of her class at Parker High School in 1955 and attended Fisk University in Nashville TN and studied Modern Foreign Languages and earned a B.A. degree in 1959. She went on to study at Indiana University for her M.A. degree in French and Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada earning an Advanced degree in Foreign Languages. She earned her Ph.D from the University of Alabama in Higher Education.

Her professional teaching career began at Moulton High School in Leeds, AL and then advanced to Ullman High School in Birmingham. She later taught at Lawson State Community College and headed the foreign language department for over 20 years before retiring.

After retiring, she then enrolled and graduated from Birmingham School of Law with a J.D. degree.

After a successful teaching and academic career, she enjoyed travel, visiting with family and friends, and summering at her home in Martha’s Vineyard.

Mrs. Thornton Owens was active in numerous civic, business and social organizations. Those include CEO of the Kennon Family Partnership; President of the Daniel Kennon and Verna H. Kennon Family Foundation; Chair of the Alabama Educational Television Foundation Board; Vice Chair of the Alabama Educational Television Commission; Trustee Birmingham Museum of Art; Trustee Birmingham International Festival of Arts; Board Member of Wake Forest University School of Divinity; Member Mayor’s Commission on Status of Women; Board Member Alabama Children’s Educational Foundation; Board Member United Way of Central Alabama; Deaconess and Sunday School teacher Sixth Avenue Baptist Church; Member Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Birmingham; Member of Northside Matrons; Member Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; Member of the Links, Inc.; Charter Member of the Women’s Fund; President of the Birmingham Board of Education; UAB English Advisory Board; Girl Scouts of America-Cahaba Council; Member of Semper Fidelis Club; Beta Kappa Boule Archousa; Parliamentarian of The Cottagers, Inc.; Leadership Birmingham.

Mrs. Thornton Owens is survived by her two children Dr. Verna Thornton (Chuck) and William Kennon Thornton (Maria), stepsons Keith Owens (Vickie) and Kevin Owens, beloved brother and sister-in-law Rozmond Kennon, Sr. and Gloria Kennon. Four grandchildren Denise Hinton, Danette Hinton, Lauren Thornton and Brooke Thornton. And a host of special friends including April Williams, Barbara Shores Larkin, Willie Casey, Houston Brown and dedicated caregivers.