2011: Owene Courtney
Owene Phillips Weber Courtney, a 1973 graduate of St. Johns, has been recognized as the school's 2011 Outstanding Alumnus.
Owene first came to St. Johns in 1968 with her mother and father and four brothers and sisters, Cathleen, Larry, Nicholas, and Louise Weber. In time, they would become a quintessential St. Johns family. Her mother, who had been in correspondence with St. Johns founder Dr. Edwin Heinrich prior to their arrival in Orange Park, ultimately headed the English department and wrote the school history. Owene and her siblings would graduate from St. Johns. Her husband, Bill Courtney, whom she met in the ninth grade at St. Johns, would become Chairman of the Board of Trustees, as his father had been. Bill’s sisters, Cinda and Sally, also attended St. Johns. Owene and Bill’s three sons would graduate from St. Johns. In addition, Larry Weber’s children would graduate and Cathleen Weber’s son would attend St. Johns.
At St. Johns, Owene was editor of the Saints Scroll and a cheerleader (she still wears her uniform to St. Johns’ homecoming!) After St. Johns, Owene was graduated from Newcomb College of Tulane University. She continued her education at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, (teacher certification), Temple University (Linguistics and ESL), University of the South, Sewanee (theology).
In 1976, Owene and Bill Courtney were married, and she began her career as a teacher, teaching history at Norfolk Collegiate (VA), and continuing in the ESL program in Charlotte (NC) teaching Laotian and Cambodian refugees.
On moving to Jacksonville in 1987, Owene participated in and then became a mentor in the Education for Ministry program, a theological extension program from the University of the South. She also continued her membership in the Jacksonville Junior League and became a member of the National Society of the Colonial Dames. Ultimately she returned to St. Johns to teach, at first part time and then full time, history and English, including Advanced Placement
Throughout her career, she has participated in a variety of community services. For two years she worked at St. Mary’s (JAX) after-school program to which she brought St. Johns students as tutors. She also served as founding president of the Clay County Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, founding member of Lutheran Social Services Refugee Outreach, and founding chair of Children’s Haven Christmas Show House.
With St. Johns always a priority, she took time to serve as president of the Parent Teacher League at St. Johns, to found the Run with the Spartans and to chair the Alumni committee for the most recent selection of Headmaster. She also served on the Founders’ Day committee and the St. Johns Celebrates committee, working tirelessly with Britt McTammany ’87 to condense the history of the school into the timeline displayed today in the Performing Arts Center.
Owene and Bill now live in the house in which he was born, where they have raised their three sons. There they continue to celebrate the joys of friends and family gatherings, including an alumni party welcoming the newly appointed Headmaster, Ed Ellison.
Dr. Heinrich would be pleased.