- [S4] Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee), A6, 7 Jan 2000.
Once, while Carl Madison Ownby was hospitalized for prostate surgery at Baptist Hospital of East Tennessee, he talked his doctor into letting him check out early to attend Sunday school at First Baptist Church in Sevierville.
Mr. Ownby didn't have to resort to such extraordinary means very often, but the incident exemplified his dedication to his church.
From the age of 22, the longtime hardware merchant compiled a perfect attendance record of 61 years at First Baptist.
Known in Sevierville for his commitment to his church, his family and his community, Mr. Ownby died at Fort Sanders-Sevier Medical Center early Tuesday morning after a brief illness. He was 88.
Mr. Ownby spent 66 years in the hardware business.
He founded Carl Ownby and Co. in 1952 and was a charter member of the Sevier County Homebuilders Hall of Fame.
Long after his official retirement, Mr. Ownby continued to go in to the hardware store to spend time with friends he'd made over the years.
In addition to his faithful Sunday school attendance, Mr. Ownby didn't miss a meeting of the Rotary Club of Sevierville for 39 years.
According to his pastor, Mr. Ownby was trying to figure out a way to make it to Tuesday's Rotary meeting from his deathbed Monday afternoon.
"Whenever I think of Carl Ownby, I think of the word commitment," Dr. Rich Liner said.
Dr. Liner said Mr. Ownby embodied loyalty, integrity, character and honesty, adding that he would often extend credit to struggling builders who needed a little help making ends meet.
"The world needs a lot more Carl Ownbys," Dr. Liner said.
Mr. Ownby served on the board of SunTrust Bank (formerly the Bank of Sevierville) and was a former trustee of Baptist Hospital and Carson-Newman College.
He served as chairman of the board of Sevier County Hospital, which was the forerunner of Fort Sanders-Sevier Medical Center.
Mr. Ownby's survivors include his wife, Lois Loveday Ownby; sons and daughters-in-law Charles and Jean Ownby, Harold and Sue Ownby; daughter and son-in-law Libby and Joe Williams; sister Stella Russell; several grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Burial will be at 10 a.m. today at Shiloh Cemetery in Pigeon Forge.