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We’re deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend, Evelyn Owen Palen. Evelyn lived on the Island in her youth, was a cherished member of the Bannerman Castle Trust, and on our board of directors. She’s pictured here, attending the opening of the Wee Bay Gardens on the Island, in 2007.

Evelyn Owen Palen died Wednesday November 21 at her home in Balmville, NY. She was 96 years old.

Evelyn Irene Owen was born October 3, 1916, to Edward Owen and Iva MacNary Owen, at home, in Fostertown, NY.

She attended a one room schoolhouse and graduated from Newburgh Free Academy at age 15. She was later declared emancipated from her parents and lived on Bannerman Island with her brother Leonard Wayne Owen, the assistant caretaker, and his family.

At 19 she went to Delhi Agricultural School and took both Secretarial and Dairy Commercial studies, graduating a two-year program in one year. She met Wade Palen on her birthday at Delhi. They loved to dance. They were married at the Palen Farm on Creekside Road, south of Kingston, on January 22, 1938. Over the years they lived in Kingston, Auburn, Walden, New City in NY; Ridgewood, NJ; Wilton and Stamford, CT; Tacoma, WA; and finally four miles from where she was born, in Balmville, NY.

From 1946 to 1952, Wade and Evelyn built their unique home of concrete and cinder block in Walden, NY. Evelyn carried a concrete block in each hand while walking a narrow beam. She mixed all the concrete and all the mortar for the entire house herself while Wade created the forms, poured the concrete, and laid all the block. The house was designed to be efficient and easy to clean.

Evelyn worked as a secretary in law firms in Walden and then for New York Trap Rock. She was the Executive Assistance to the CEO of Lone Star Industries in NYC and in Greenwich, CT. She was the first woman elected to the Board of Directors of Lone Star Industries.

She was active in the Walden Women’s Club, serving as a President and also as a Resolutions Chairwoman. In the 1950’s she created Walden Day to showcase town businesses; the children were excused from school to attend. Evelyn and Wade taught square dancing to Explorer Post 33 and helped young boys grow into solid young citizens. Many still write to her with their gratitude. She served on the Board of the Bannerman Castle Trust and occasionally gave lectures about the Island on river cruises to benefit the Trust.

Evelyn attributed her good health and longevity to her loving family, hard work, and yoga.

Evelyn was predeceased in 1993 by her husband of 55 years, Wade. She is survived by her devoted son, Stanleigh Wade Palen and his wife Mary, of King George, VA; her daughter E. Virginia Donovan, of Poughkeepsie, NY; her grandchildren Catherine and her husband Andrew Geislzer and children Emma, Katrina, and Wade of Fairfax, VA; Amy and her husband Dr. Michael Wentworth and children Benjamin, Christina, and Jason of Silverdale, WA; Caroline and her husband Jeffrey White and their children Corinne and Jorn of Washington, D.C.; and William Donovan of Asheville, NC. She was predeceased by her brother Leonard Wayne Owen and her half-brothers Denton, Edwin and Stanley.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be considered to Bannerman Castle Trust, PO Box 843, Glenham, NY 12527-0843.

A celebration of her life will be held on December 6, 2012 at 6 pm at The First Reformed Church, 70 Scofield Street, Walden, New York. All are welcome.

Virginia Donovan
37 High Acres Drive
Poughkeepsie, New York 12603

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