Jean Justus Owens

May 11, 2023


Jean Justus Owens, 88, passed away in her sleep Thursday, May 11, 2023 at Westminster Canterbury in Virginia Beach  She was born and raised in Currituck County, NC, calling Waterily her home until moving to Norfolk, then Virginia Beach.

She began working right after high school.  Then she found a home in insurance at Starr Cromwell and Son Insurance Agency.  She continued in insurance, first as an Independent Agent, then owning her own Nationwide Agency, along with her Jean J Owens Agency.   She took great pride in taking care of her beloved customers.

Jean was known for her drive, determination, and  independence.  Many described her as a “force to be reckoned with.”  She built her own business; she designed and built her own house.  She mentored many young folks who looked up to her as a role model.  Jean loved color:  in her yard, her house, her clothes, and her life.  She was also known for a few favorite colorful words.

She had great friends and loved entertaining.

She married Rupert Owens when she was 19; they were married for 21 years and remained friends.  She was a devoted mother to Annette and her family grew to include grandchildren and great grandchildren.  When she became a grandmother, she didn’t want to be called anything with “grand” in it, though she did state she was “grand and wonderful.”  Since Grandwonderful was a mouthful for kids, she became “Jean” to all of her grands and greats.  She brought her own unique style to grandparenting,  and they all love telling their favorite stories about her and the love and energy she brought to their lives. Beach times and Christmases were their favorite times because of her.  There are so many “Jean-isms” that put a smile on everyone’s face.   She passed along the love of family and friends, the love of the beach, cooking, gardening, and a sense of humor.  She and her sister Shirley always gave each other gifts of heritage, and she has certainly left a beautiful heritage of life.

She is survived by her daughter, Annette/AJ Owens Eccles (John) of whom she was so proud.  The other loves of her life were her grandchildren:  Jordan Eccles (Stephanie), Ty Eccles (Casey), Carly Eccles Sheaffer (Shef),  and her great grandchildren Addie, Bria, and Bryce Sheaffer,  Grace and John Eccles, Sophia and Victoria Eccles.   She was preceded in death by her parents, Hasson and Edith Justus, her sister and brother in law Shirley and Gene Austin, and a grandson Abram Eccles Sheaffer.

Many thanks to the wonderful staff in Memory Care and Long Term Care at Westminster for their love and care of her.  The family will hold a private service at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Eccles Family Scholarship at the University of Lynchburg by going to or clicking “HERE” , the Alzheimer’s Association at or by clicking “HERE”, or the Rotary Club of Norfolk at or by clicking “HERE”.

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Susan Bradshaw
9 months ago

Jean was my closest friend for over 50 years. We worked, ran the track at the Y, did early morning Aerobics classes, played racquetball, shopped, sipped and vacationed together. She was always fun! One of our more memorable Halloween costumes was me as Mike Tyson and she as Robin Givens. She was successful in her business because she truly cared for her clients, some of whom were with her agency for generations. She lived her life on her own terms. I admired her spunk, values, business acumen and taste in clothing and home decor. I miss her dearly. Rest in peace, Mizriz Ovens.

mary johnston
9 months ago

Jean was indeed a force to reconed with! When I first met her whe was the first sucessfull business woman I had met. She was outspoken, genuine,funny and hard-working. She was an inspiration for me and my sister who went on to be as sucessful in her own business. She was a great role model for us during a time when women in business were not imagined to OWN one! She was one of a kind and I will miss her Being. Mary J.

Sally Hartman
9 months ago

I met Jean at the Blocker Y years ago and always enjoyed our early morning locker room chats. Then I joined the Rotary Club of Norfolk where Jean was a member and got to spend more time with her. Jean was smart, fun to be around and a people person who made others happy. I remember her well and miss her. But I am glad our paths kept crossing.

Clint Midkiff
9 months ago

I first met Jean in 1972, in conjunction with her insurance agency appointment with the insurer that I represented. We became a great friends. We met for lunch often and she taught me the intricacies of the agency side of the business and the importance of service to our mutual clients. When she called my office and left a message. It was always “Call Agent Owens!” Our receptionist believed her to in law enforcement. Beside being a trusted business adviser to me, a 26 year old insurance novice, we became closer and enjoyed many adventures with her circle of friends, including a most memorable first ever Norfolk Harborfest!
Over the years, we spoke often and visited some, even after I moved to Elizabeth City with my new family. “Agent Owens” was a special friend! We last spoke when she became a new resident of Westminster. Rest in peace, my dear friend!

9 months ago

I was part of the early morning YMCA crew for many years. Jean was one of the reasons I got up at 4:30 and trekked 30 minutes into Downtown Norfolk. Her sass, independence and strength inspired me during a particularly rough time in my life. Those wee hours helped shape me into a new woman. I owe her so much. She will always have a firm place in my soul — and the world.