Owen James Caffrey lived a long and happy life of over 89 years. He met his beloved wife Peggy in the summer of 1955 as their families were building houses in Barnegat Light, NJ. Owen recalled recently that he first noticed Peggy when he saw her wearing a “tight blue bathing suit” on the beach one day. He went on to say that he knew she was the one for him when she asked to borrow a wheelbarrow, because that meant she was “eager to do things.”
He and Peggy (nee Wilson), had four sons together and raised them in their homes in Willingboro and later Edgewater Park and Burlington, New Jersey. They continued to spend their summers in Barnegat Light, where the whole family still enjoys the beach, water and peaceful surroundings. Over the years they purchased several historical homes and restored them to beautiful places where everyone felt welcome and loved. Owen’s incredible talents in art, design, woodworking and salvage contributed to the beauty of their homes.
Owen began his adult life serving in the Army, stationed in Japan during the Korean conflict. After returning home he completed his bachelor’s degree at Trenton State College and began a teaching career. He taught woodshop, mechanical drawing and architectural drawing in the Hamilton Township Schools for over 39 years, the majority of which was at Steinert High School. The subjects he taught were secondary to the relationships he developed with his students and coworkers. Over the years there has been a never-ending stream of visitors who continually thanked him for the impact he had on their lives. It is often said that a teacher touches the future, and Owen embodied that. There is no way to adequately understand just how much Owen improved the world by positively impacting those he taught.
Owen was always active in the communities where he lived. In Burlington he served on the Historic Commission. In Barnegat Light he was a member of the zoning board. After retiring from teaching he worked as a beach badge checker, drove the tractor tram to the Barnegat Light beaches, and greeted everyone each day as they walked home from the beach on 15th street. Owen loved his church, St. Peter’s at the Light, where he was the “world’s oldest acolyte.”
Owen was an amazing husband to Peggy and father to Brian, Douglas, Drew, and Scott. He leaves behind his wife and sons, along with Brian’s wife Dianne, Drew’s wife Janine and Scott’s fiancé Jen Anthonsen. Owen loved being a grandfather to all of his grandchildren. He leaves behind: James, Carson, Kaitlyn, Daniel and wife Susan, Alison and husband Michael, Sophia, and Liam. Owen was thrilled to become a great-grandfather and reveled in the time he spent with Jane Elizabeth and Duncan Howard. Owen is also survived by his sister Frances Iorio and husband Christopher, sister Esther Gammage, brother-in-law Charles Wilson and wife Theresa, godson Brian Farias, nieces and nephews Patricia, Christopher, Susan, Christopher, Jeffrey, and is predeceased by his niece Lisa. Also left behind are a multitude of other relatives and friends. Owen is predeceased by his best friend Lester Konyhas, his steadfast partner in crime since childhood, and is survived by Lester’s wife Jeanne and their daughters Dawn and Kelly and their families.
Every time Owen met someone new, he would ask “Where are you from?” This meant you were now part of his life. He called just about everyone “Bud.” Many joked that he did this because he couldn’t remember anyone’s names, but that’s not the truth. He called everyone “Bud” because that’s what was in his heart. He loved everyone, and everyone loved him. His legendary sense of humor and joy for life were absolutely infectious. It’s true that Owen had many gifts, a large and loving family, and a successful career; but the greatest impact Owen had on the world was how he made others feel. He died peacefully in his home in Barnegat Light and will live on forever in our hearts.
All are welcome to attend a celebration of Owen's life on Sunday, June 3, 2018, 12 noon, at the Barnegat Light Firehouse, 10 W. 10th Street, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006. Peggy Caffrey requests any donations to be sent to St. Peter's at the Light, P.O. Box 428, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006 OR Owen Caffrey Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 77, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006.