Janet Palmer Owens

December 22, 2021

Janet Palmer Owens Obituary

Janet Henderson Palmer Owens 

October 11, 1946 - December 22, 2021 

Janet Henderson Palmer Owens was born on October 11, 1946, in Boston, Massachusetts.  She and her sister Estelle were the daughters of Horace Palmer of Baltimore, Maryland, and Frances (Henderson) Palmer of Boston, Massachusetts.  

Janet married John Owens from Boston, MA and they had a son, Brian Palmer Owens.  She was a proud mother to Brian, a Senior Vice President of Commerce Advertising at VMLY&R. Her four-year-old granddaughter, Olivia Pelot Owens, was the apple of her eye. 

Janet grew up in Roxbury, MA, and attended the Boston Public Schools, including Girls’ Latin School.  As a child, she enjoyed dancing and often represented her school by performing calypso at outside venues.  Janet, who was once described by her teacher as a “ray of sunshine,” graduated from Jeremiah E. Burke High School. 

Upon graduation, Janet devoted her entire life to educating urban children and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northeastern University on a scholarship provided by the Ford Foundation.  At Northeastern, she became a member of the Epsilon chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  She was selected to be a Kappa Sweetheart and loved being a member of the sweetheart court. 

With her mom’s work as a social worker and her sister’s career as a guidance counselor, Janet came from a family committed to helping others.  She was a dedicated and passionate educator, a caring mentor, and a strong role model and leader.  Janet began her teaching career in 1969 at the William Monroe Trotter School in Roxbury as one of the youngest teachers on staff.  For eleven years (1974 -1985) Ms. Owens then served as the guidance counselor at the Thompson Middle School, followed by ten years at Brighton High School.  In her role as a school counselor, she specifically worked with students on career awareness and making sure that young people of all backgrounds had access to higher education opportunities.  

When asked to assume leadership of the award-winning Samuel Mason Elementary School in 1998, Ms. Owens set out to take the school to the next level.  During her tenure as principal, she established a strong learning foundation for students, created a culture of academic rigor, and oversaw the school’s transition to pilot status.  In November 2003, the Mason was chosen from among the top schools in the nation to be named a member of the National Alliance of Black School Educators Demonstration Schools/Community Initiative.  

In June 2007, Ms. Owens was appointed as Assistant Superintendent for the Boston Public Schools, working with more than forty schools throughout the city.  After a year on Governor Deval Patrick’s Task Force for Education, she was asked to serve on the Governor’s Leadership Council to help develop the Massachusetts Strategic Plan for Education.  BPS Superintendent Carol R. Johnson then selected Ms. Owens to serve as Academic Superintendent for the Pilot Schools, where she worked with innovative principals and headmasters to increase academic achievement.  In April 2009, Janet was appointed as Chief Academic Officer for Boston Public Schools.  Finally retiring as CAO in 2010, she ended her career having brought decades of knowledge, instructional leadership, creative thinking, and empathy to the district. 

Janet was an active member of the Rho Epsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., The Middlesex County Chapter of The Links, Inc., and The Girl Friends, Inc.  She enjoyed all of her clubs and looked forward to their meetings each month. 

In her retirement, Janet continued to work in an academic capacity, mentoring principals for the Brookline Public Schools and supervising administrative interns in graduate programs at Harvard University.  She also took cruises and other trips with friends to include annual visits to Fort Myers, Florida, and Martha’s Vineyard.  In later years, she enjoyed spending as much time as possible with her granddaughter, Olivia. 

Janet will be greatly missed by many people from different walks of life and will not be forgotten. She is survived by her son, Brian Palmer Owens; daughter-in-law, Danielle Pelot; granddaughter, Olivia Pelot Owens; sister, Estelle Palmer Hector; brother-in-law, Harold Hector; niece, Tracey Hector; nephew, Stephen Hector; niece, Bethany Taylor; great-nephew, Jayden Hector-Davis; great-niece, Evelyn Hector; cousins, Arnold Henderson, Jeanette Gerald, Frederick Boyd, Patricia Davis, Ernest Gambrill, Judy Gambrill, Lauren Henderson, Albin Xavier, Reid Boyd, and Katie Boyd; and family friend, Clifford Weeks. 

Visitation will be Monday, January 3, 2022, at the Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, MA and a live stream link being adding to Parish of the Epiphany church website for those that cannot attend. 


Scholarship donations, in lieu of flowers, can be sent to: 


Rho Epsilon Omega Chapter AKA 

PO BOX 812351 

Wellesley, MA 02482 

ATTN: Designated for “Janet Palmer Owens Scholarship” 


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January 3, 2022

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Parish of the Epiphany
70 Church St
Winchester, MA 01890

Funeral Service
January 3, 2022

11:00 AM
Parish of the Epiphany
70 Church St
Winchester, MA 01890


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