Mary Ann Owen | Passages


Surrounded by friends and family, Mary Anne left us on August 2, 2023, exactly ten years after the death of her beloved husband, Chuck. She had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for several years.

Mary Anne was born in Kirkland, WA in 1939, the daughter of teachers. Her father also served as Mayor of Kirkland for many years. She assumed she would follow the same path in teaching. However, while she did love teaching her college freshmen how to write a well-reasoned essay, there were many other opportunities on the horizon.

In 1970, she took a job at Equitable in New York, designing new processing systems for their large volume of paperwork. By this time, she had a husband and was the mother of two small boys, and a move to Washington D.C., the capital of paperwork, was in the offing. The expansive use of computers to move information and paper around affected almost every business sector, especially the way document-intensive, large-scale, multi-district, complex litigation was undertaken and managed.

Since Mary Anne had once dreamed of attending law school, she jumped into this new work with great enthusiasm and enjoyed her years as a management consultant with Price Waterhouse.

The year 1982 brought many changes. It was the year she would celebrate the 25th reunion of her class of 1957 from Lake Washington High School. Skip Owen, as Chuck was known then, was a student along with Mary Anne in the school’s first honors program for academically-inclined students. Back then in 1957, she had a crush on Skip; they dated once, gave their commencement speeches together, and left for colleges on opposite sides of the state, Chuck to the University of Washington and Mary Anne to Whitman College (where she found close, lifelong friends among her Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sisters, many of whom visited her during her final weeks).

The other gift of 1982 was WPPSS—the Washington Public Power Supply System litigation, which involved over one-million pages of potential evidence. Chemical Bank hired Mary Anne to create and oversee a litigation support center in Seattle. This facility was responsible for processing one million pages, which were logged in at the Financial Center’s loading dock and then copied on one of the large Kodak copiers. This would begin a long process of document analysis ending with a searchable computer database and an evidence archive.

Mary Anne had done this sort of thing dozens of times, recently concluding a year-long project at Ford headquarters focusing on the many lawsuits stemming from the Pinto gas tank explosions. By this time, she was regarded as one of the “primary inventors” of litigation support system methodology, and she served as President of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Institute of Management Consultants.

Three months after their reunion in 1982, Mary Anne moved back to the Seattle area to be with Chuck, so it didn’t surprise anyone when they married in 1987. They wanted a party with friends and chose the Spanish Ballroom at the Olympic Hotel in Seattle, where memories of many high school formal dances lingered. Mary Anne shared their wedding pictures with friends who stopped by for a visit during her last days. They agreed that she was a very “glamorous bride.”

By 1994, Mary Anne had retired from her work with litigators. She earned a second master’s degree, this time in Applied Behavioral Science, and completed her clinical training as a psychotherapist.

She and Chuck moved to Orcas Island and built the house of their dreams. Mary Anne finally had time to play her baby grand piano and pursue her interest in art. Her colorful fish hang in many Orcas Island homes. She opened a small practice on Orcas, specializing in family systems, and also began her work as an organizational consultant and Myers-Briggs trainer.

What she loved doing the most was Myers Briggs training she did for the community, thereby returning to her first love — teaching. But when Chuck died of cancer in 2013, she lost her enthusiasm for life. Her family and friends hope she has found him on “the other side.”

Mary Anne is survived by her sons Matthew Bradley Manetti (Mariah) of Peachtree City, GA, and Mark Andrew Manetti (Wendy) of Vienna, VA; her stepchildren Mark Frederic Owen (Reagan) of North Bend, WA, and Jami Gisela Owen Davis of Glacier, WA, and 10 grandchildren. Mary Anne asked that any donations go to the Orcas Island Food Bank.