'Bud' Owings, 75, scouting enthusiast

August 03, 1996|By ROBERT HILSON JR. | ROBERT HILSON JR.,SUN STAFF

Consider William "Bud" Owings's 30-year Boy Scouting career one of two ways: He was in scouting for three decades because the boy inside him never left, or he lasted through two generations of youngsters because the boys of Troop 108 never let him leave.

As scoutmaster, organizer and lead rabble-rouser for Troop 108, Mr. Owings was the heart of the Northwest Baltimore Scout troop from 1946 to 1976 - a period during which he led thousands of youths.

Bud Owings, who died Thursday of a stroke at the Robosson Court Nursing Home in Carroll County at age 75, was the scoutmaster to boys from the often troubled Pimlico area because that's where he grew up and joined the Boy Scouts.

But mainly, Bud Owings was a 30-year Scout because, as his son John H. Owings of Delmar, Del., put it: "He loved people and loved working with boys."

Mr. Owings enjoyed scouting so much that each year for his two-week vacation -- his only leave from his hardware sales job - he'd take a dozen or so Scouts to Broadcreek Scout camp in Harford County.

He was so devoted to scouting that he drove one of his sons to meetings in Bel Air from their Lochearn home every weekend during the summer - and waited for three hours in the car on the parking lot for the meeting to end.

"A kid never wanted anything when Bud Owings was around;" said Roland "Bud" Merkle, 62, who was a Boy Scout under Mr. Owings and later served with him as a scoutmaster. "I attribute a lot of my success and character building to him."

Mr. Owings graduated from the West Nottingham boarding school in Cecil County in 1939 and served in the Navy from 1942 to 1946 during World War II.

He worked for William H. Cole and Sons Hardware business from to 1942 and from 1946 to 1985. He later worked for Frederick Trading Co. until he retired in 1994.

He and Eunice Green married in 1943. He became a scoutmaster three years later.

He was awarded the Silver Beaver medal in 1971, the highest medal given to Scout volunteers.

A large, jovial man, he easily won the confidence of the youths and was a father figure to many. He seemed to have a joke for every occasion and injected it at the right moment.

Once, while on an Appalachian Trail hike in Pennsylvania, his group came across a skunk family.

"Everyone froze and didn't move a muscle," Mr. Merkle said. "We PTC were all afraid of what was going to happen. Bud, all of the sudden, looked at the skunks and looked at us and said, 'Let's squirt, children, let's squirt.' That just broke everyone up."

But Bud Owings was also susceptible to pranks.

During a two-week camping trip in Harford County many years ago, several youngsters suggested that he should be aware of raccoons wandering at night in the heavily wooded campsite.

"He was staying in a lean-to and while he was sleeping, someone took a raccoon skin hat and put it on his chest along with some wood chips," said another son, William Allen Owings Jr. of Onancock, Va.

"Boy, did he jump when he woke up."

Services are scheduled for 12:30 p.m. today at Loring Byers Funeral Home, 8728 Liberty Road in Randallstown.

In addition to his wife and sons, ,he is survived by five grandchildren.

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