- Record Groups
- Orin G. Libby Manuscript Co...
- Pat Owens Papers
Pat Owens Papers, 1976, 1997-2000
Patricia Guerard was born in 1941 on a farm outside of East Grand Forks, Minnesota. She was the youngest child of Willard and Eugenia Guerard. Patricia Guerard attended Sacred Heart High School in East Grand Forks and married Bobby Owens in 1958. Together they have three children.
Pat Owens began her career in the City Auditor’s office as a steno clerk in 1963. She held that position for a year before the Mayor of Grand Forks, Hugo Magnuson, brought her into the mayor’s office for a job. For the following thirty-two years, Owens worked in the mayor’s office as first a secretary then as an administrative assistant. She served four mayors including, Magnuson, C.P. O’Neill, Bud Wessman and Michael Polovitz. All living former mayors supported Owens’s campaign for mayor in 1996. On June 11, 1996, Pat Owens won the city elections with a total of seventy-six percent of the votes to become the first woman mayor in Grand Forks history. She was installed as the new mayor on June 25, 1996.
The spring after becoming mayor, Grand Forks experienced one of the worst natural disasters in American history. Pat Owens made the decision on April 18, 1997, to evacuate the city. After the initial flooding, Owens made several speeches which earned her national recognition. To help gain funding and support from the national government for the rebuilding and recovery of Grand Forks, Owens petitioned President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton along with the entire congressional body. Her actions during and after the flood helped garner private donations and also earned her several awards such as Municipal Leader of the Year by American City and County Magazine as well the title of one of “The Most Fascinating Women of the Year” by Ladies’ Home Journal Magazine.
After her four years of serving as mayor, Pat Owens decided to campaign for reelection in 2000. She was, however, defeated by Michael Brown, an OB/GYN in Grand Forks. After her defeat in the mayoral race, she moved to Florida with her husband. Shortly after her move, however, Owens was approached to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a public relations employee. Her job entailed traveling to disaster areas, supporting residents and explaining to city officials what to expect in their situation. Owens also traveled to several meetings and conferences to speak publicly as FEMA’s representative.