NIU hall of famer Walt Owens dies at 87

By Northern Star Staff

DeKALB — NIU hall of famer Walt Owens died Sunday. Coach “O” was 87 years old.

Owens was the baseball coach from 1976 to 1982, winning 133 games. He was also an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team from 1973 to 1978. He was an NIU faculty member from 1973 to 2011.

He was an emeritus professor by the time of his retirement. Over his years at NIU, he mentored thousands of students, Larry Bolles, Owen’s best friend said.

He also served on the Presidential Commission on the Status of Minorities and the Task Force on Racial Discrimination and Sexual Harassment.

Beyond NIU, Owens played in the Negro Leagues with the Detroit Stars from 1953 to 1955, and Owens remained in the city as a teacher for its public schools and served as a coach in multiple sports.

He was on the board for the National Congress of Black Faculty as well as a member of the Illinois Committee on Black Concerns in Higher Education.