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Reflections on JFK: Federal Way author captures rare stories
To mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, Federal Way resident Dean R. Owen has written a book that goes beyond the conspiracy theories and sexual lore that surrounds the president.
The result is "November 22, 1963: Reflections on the Life, Assassination, and Legacy of John F. Kennedy." The hardback book is available now from Skyhorse Publishing, and includes a foreword by legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who said Kennedy was "the most inspired and inspiring of any president I covered."
In addition to previously unreleased photos, the book contains dozens of interviews of people who had personal experiences and connections with Kennedy.
From journalists and civil rights leaders to political figures and family members, the subjects agreed to candid interviews because Owen promised no questions about assassination conspiracy theories or Kennedy's sex life.
The reflections in the book range from poignant to amusing — and add depth to the enduring legacy of one of America's most charismatic figures. One highlight is the first-ever interview with Dr. William Bernhard, the surgeon who fought for 30 hours to save Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, the president's newborn son who died in August 1963.
Kennedy's death on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas marked a line in the sand for the United States. At the time, Owen was 7 years old when he heard the tragic news at school.
"It was a pivotal thing for me," said Owen, adding that everyone knows where they were when they heard Kennedy was shot. "America, on that day, lost a degree of innocence that it will never reclaim."
The assassination inspired Owen to pursue a career in journalism. In addition to freelance reporting, Owen now works as the senior advisor of corporate communications for World Vision, an international charity based in Federal Way.
Nearly three years ago, Owen made a list of 100 people to interview about Kennedy, then embarked on what he called a labor of love. Among those interviewed include:
• Priscilla Johnson McMillan, a translator and reporter who knew both John F. Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, the presumed assassin.
• Robert F. Kennedy Jr., nephew and environmental activist.
• Walter Mondale, former U.S. Vice President and 1984 Democratic presidential nominee.
• Tom Brokaw, legendary NBC news anchor and reporter.
• Father Oscar Huber, a Catholic priest who administered the Last Rites to Kennedy.
• Michael Medved, author and syndicated radio show host/commentator.
• Al Neuharth, author and founder of USA Today.
• Barry Goldwater Jr., former Congressman and son of 1964 Republican presidential nominee.
• Gary Hart, former U.S. Senator and one-time presidential candidate.
• Stan Stearns, who captured the iconic photo of John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father's casket.
• Vincent Bugliosi, attorney best known for prosecuting Charles Manson. Bugliosi authored the book "Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy." He said Owen's book is "an important contribution to the literature on President Kennedy's assassination."
Learn more about the author
• "November 22, 1963: Reflections on the Life, Assassination, and Legacy of John F. Kennedy" is available at Amazon.com.
• Dean Owen will speak about his book at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, at the Federal Way Regional Library, 34200 1st Way S. Admission is free.
• Owen is a freelance writer who also blogs for the Huffington Post. Read more here.