Friends In Times Of Tragedy

This morning, Wendell Owen died. Wendell is from the Davis County Cooperative, or the “Kingston group” as they are often referred to. I have had the fortune to know some of Wendell’s wives and children very well. I was even involved with putting a talent show together that represented people from various fundamentalist polygamous families and communities that his wife helped me with.

I don’t know how big Wendell’s family is, but I know he impacted a lot of people. He was a kind and gentle man. So many stereotypes of men in polygamy revolve around controlling, self-serving egomaniac men, but like so many men I have known that live this way, Wendell was a humble man dedicated to service of his family and others.

If you ever thought of reaching out to someone in a time of loss or tragedy, don’t hesitate.  I have heard some say they avoided someone because it would be awkward and they wouldn’t know what to say or were afraid of saying the wrong thing.  But sincere concern and love given freely can have a huge impact on people.  It can bring sunshine to the darkest of days.  It can bring hope when hope seems lost.

This is even true when the person is old and expected to die. I believe Wendell was in his 90′s so this death was certainly not a surprise. Regardless of the expectation or not, when the moment finally happens there is so much release of emotions that develop. Our prayers are with the Owen family. When we called today to give our condolences and asked what can be done, that was all that was requested, so that is what we offer. Much love to the Owen family!

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4 Responses to Friends In Times Of Tragedy

  1. Allison says:

    This group is very well known for child abuse, sexual molestation and incest. Group leaders have millions of dollars while the wives and children live in squalor. If you are looking to normalize polygamy, associating yourselves with the Kingstons is not the way to go.

  2. Kitty says:

    I think the words and sentiment in your post are well meaning, but I agree with Alison, it’s not the way to advance poly for those of us who do not believe in forced marriage and sexual abuse, not that you do though. I’m sorry that you mourn this person’s loss, and for those of his family, for I”m sure some of them loved him, even through conflicting feelings and abuse; but I hope that with him slowly goes those of his generation and mindset to leave a more caring and stable form of poly that involves freedom of choice an equality.

    • Alina says:

      The problems with stereotypes and generalizations is not that they don’t have a truthful substance, it is that they don’t represent the entire picture of every person associated with that stereotype. We are aware of some of the stories and allegations concerning the Kingston group and have consistently stood against any forced marriage and sexual abuse. Our knowledge about this man and those members of his family we have come to know and respect have shown no such evidence. We have recently worked with many defectors from the FLDS as well and to brand all FLDS as corrupt as Warren Jeffs is not right. We believe in treating each individual with the same respect and love we seek for ourselves. Our desire is not to cover up any abuses that exist in any polygamous family, and at the same time remove the cloak of secrecy, the fear of prosecution and persecution and the broad brush stereotypes that condemn every family. We are not trying to advance poly, we are trying to advance love and liberty for all, even when we don’t agree with them.

      Long before we did any advocacy work publicly we have labored with social services to get access to those victims of abuse and trauma within the broader polygamous culture in Utah. If we are aware of those that are culpable in abuse we report it and get victims help as we are ethically and legally required to do so. Our personal interaction with Wendell Owen has lead us to find him kind, gentle and a loving father. For us to condemn him on others stories or by his associations would not be consistent with our values.

  3. Chris Nystrom says:

    “We are not trying to advance poly, we are trying to advance love and liberty for all, even when we don’t agree with them.” – Beautiful.

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