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The Surgeon Who Planted Trees

This doctor's career, avocation, and family life combined to build a generations-long legacy.

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It was the 1940s, in southern Indiana, and the Owens family farm was worn out and badly eroded. What could the farmer’s grown children do? The son, a doctor, decided to plant trees. He got his own children involved in the project, which lasted years, one weekend at a time.

Dr. Walter Owens was born in Lawrence County, on a strawberry farm near the town of Norman. He worked as a surgeon and obstetrician in Bloomington for 30 years. He was also known to his family and friends as a passionate furniture maker. His daughter, Kathryn Whealton, stopped by Cafe Indiana to tell us how that passion for the woodworking craft tied in with saving his family farm – and provided three generations of the Owens family with heirloom furniture.

Even though Dr. Owens passed away in 2009, the hardwood forest that exists because of his vision, generosity, and hard work continues to provide lumber for fine furniture made around the world.

Music for this story is shared via Creative Commons license, from bensound.com.

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