In Memory of Joseph “Jay” Owens
The Village Players — and the community it’s served for nearly 70 years — lost a very special person this past Friday, January 23rd. Joseph W. Owens, better known as Jay, the box-office guy.
Jay was much more than the box-office guy, even though that’s the position he held at the theater for the last 17 years. His parents, Joseph A. and Elise were founding members of The Village Players in 1947. Jay, quite literally, grew up in the theater and was fully participating by the age of 10. Sixty-one years later he remained a board member and head of the box-office, greeting our patrons at nearly every single performance.
He was, aside from the stone walls of our building’s exterior, the last remaining relic from the earliest days of our group still standing and active behind the scenes. We would look to him for guidance and information on just about everything related to the business. He had his own stoney exterior, however, and despite his ubiquity, I don’t think too many of us could say we knew him all that well. He had a polarizing personality; with a wit and charm about him that could easily go over some people’s heads. He was a perfectionist, which is why he chose to hold on to the hardest job in the theater for so long, sacrificing an implicit desire for a few more shots in front of the spotlight.
In fact, Jay was brought into the spotlight one last time just this past January 9th, on opening night of our current show. He was presented with the addition of his name to our plaque of honorary members who’ve dedicated years of service to The Village Players. He had such a good time, he told the show’s director he wants that to happen before EVERY performance this run!
The memories and stories Jay shared with us will be everlasting. We will miss him dearly, but he will be on stage with us from now on… in one form or another.
Jay’s sister, Denise Willoth recognized he had a never-ending love for The Village Players and told us if any one would like to make a memorial contribution in Jay’s name to the playhouse, please direct it to the Building Fund.
The Village Players
PO Box 444
Hatboro, PA 19040
The family can be contacted through:
The Owens Family
C/O Denise Willoth
11 Snowden Place
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
3 thoughts on “In Memory of Joseph “Jay” Owens”
One of my very favorite people from the UM class of 1961. Had very few close friends during High School, but Joe “Jesseppi” was one of them. I remember his involvement with the Village Players even then…
I knew Jay since 1994 when I joined Village players, did a show with Jay, always telling you a joke, very dependable to the theater, it won’t be the same without Jay, never enjoyed retirement, I. Kept telling him to retire now, but he wanted to wait til he was 70, God bless Jay and his family, his parents were great as well.
Came to the VP website here after rereading my own mother’s obituary and fondly remembering her time back in Hatboro. I spent at least a handful of years growing up backstage at the Village Players when my parents were active with the organization, along with Jay’s parents, Joe and Elise Owens. I am pleased to know that Jay carried on his parents involvement there with y’all. My condolences to Denise and the rest of the family and to all who loved him.
My parents, Bill and Cathie Sharpe, were there back in the day with Norm and Vicki Downs, Mary Thoman, and Marilyn and Andy Maxwell, and others whose names simply escape me at the moment. Anyone curious can read my dad’s obit here: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/william-sharpe-obituary?pid=156506167 and my mom’s obit here: https://www.richmond.com/obituaries/sharpe-cathie/article_26a89edd-a5de-5064-913a-f58479977a8a.html
It’s really great to know that the Village Players still provides quality entertainment for the community! Break a leg!