WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — Jeremy Owens, 42, died Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. An oak has fallen.
The consummate polymath, Jeremy Owens was a world-class ocean lifeguard, professional stunt man, world level Jiu Jitsu black belt who pioneered Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the Southeast by originating the opening of Evolution Mixed Martial Arts Academy.
His innovation and passion for the sport led to creating one of the south’s most successful fight teams. Helping students of all levels learn the art of submission grappling was one of Jeremy’s most prideful accomplishments and has led to hundreds of competitors throughout North Carolina who credit him with their core knowledge of the sport. Most of all, Jeremy was a gentle giant who was a generous friend, teacher and mentor to all who crossed his path.
Jeremy served as the captain for Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue for 16 years. The training delivered to the Ocean Rescue lifesavers under his guidance was to the highest of standards as established by the United States Lifesaving Association. This led to receiving USLA’s National Award for the program’s “commitment and dedication to public safety,” surpassing all other agencies in the country. While receiving his initial firefighting credentials in 2007, Jeremy established the fastest time in Wilson, North Carolina Firefighting Academy’s history for the Combat Challenge. This achievement still stands 13 years later.
His commitment to personal excellence had Jeremy promoted to captain for the Wrightsville Beach Fire Department when he became eligible. During his tenure, Jeremy established the town’s Junior Lifeguard Program. The highlight for these young girls and boys was to train like Jeremy with Jeremy, and, then, to get rescued by Jeremy on a jet-ski and go for a ride in the ocean with him. Their smiles said it all. The number of those rescued by the lifeguards he trained is over 5,000 individuals.
The commendation letters in his file for those lives saved by him are numerous. However, one is worthy of praise once again. Late in the workday, a U.S. Marine pilot ejected from his Harrier jet two miles offshore of Wrightsville Beach. With disregard for his own personal safety, Captain Owens, along with another exceptional lifeguard he had trained, expertly maneuvered through a hazardous debris field containing jet fuel to reach the U.S. Marine Corps pilot. Their heroic, swift response to the scene and their professionalism in their expertise mitigated further injuries to the downed pilot. Jeremy received the Meritorious Conduct Award for this selfless act of bravery.
Jeremy is survived by his parents, Kerry and Debbie Owens; brother, Nathan Owens; and sister, Kamaron Goodrich, and her husband, Seth, and their son, Baker; and Lorna Owens.
A ceremony to celebrate the Life of Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue Captain Jeremy Owens will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21, at Wrightsville Beach Park, 321 Causeway Drive, Wrightsville Beach. The public is invited. Due to the expectations of high attendance, law enforcement will be on the scene directing traffic. A private procession will precede the ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive in Wrightsville Beach Park at approximately 1:45 p.m. The public is asked to arrive and be parked no later than 1:30 p.m.
We do encourage everyone to wear a mask and to social distance at the ceremony. For those who prefer to remain distanced from the crowd, the ceremony will be streamed live via Facebook through the Town of Wrightsville Beach and Wrightsville Beach Police Department.