A proud Swede, Norm Owen took a Swedish classic and turned it into a staple of local cuisine, the Korv Burger.
“During the first few Swedish festivals at Jamestown Community College, the Scandinavian Society sold pieces of Korv,” Owen’s wife, Evelyn said. “Norm thought they should sell sandwiches. One day he came home and said ‘Hey Ev, I’m going to make a meatloaf out of Korv and slice it to be put on a rye roll!”’
For the next 14 or 15 years, Owen made sandwiches at festivals, church events, and other community gatherings.
Owen knew a lot about Korv, as well as, the meat business.
Born and raised in Jamestown, he graduated from Jamestown High School in 1948. During his high school years, he worked in a local store sweeping the floors.
After a fire at Pearson’s Market’s original location, the business moved to the corner of Newland and Forest Avenues, where Owen worked, and added a meat department to the bakery and grocery store.
Owen continued to work for Mr. Pearson after school and on the weekends, delivering groceries and meat with a wagon or his bicycle, learning about the business.
When he turned 16 years old, Mr. Pearson taught Owen how to use the saw and cut the meat.
“(Norm) respected Mr. Pearson a lot,” his wife, Evelyn, said. “He was a mentor to him.”
In 1951, Owen joined the United States Army and served during the Korean War. When he returned to Jamestown in 1953, he went back to Pearson’s and decided to continue his career by attending the National School of Meat Cutting in Toledo, Oh.
It was at this time Owen met his future bride.
“In 1955, I was training to be a nurse at WCA,” Evelyn said. “Norm had returned from the Army and his friends wanted to set him up. Our first date was a blind date to see the Ice Capades in Buffalo. After which, we did a great deal of phoning.”
After a whirlwind of a year, the two decided to marry in 1956. At the time, nursing students could not marry, so Evelyn dropped out of the program.
“In November, I quit school,” she said, “and on December 22 we were married.”
Over the next ten years, their family grew and they bought a house on South Avenue in Jamestown to raise their four children in. He began working as a salesman for the Morell Meat Company, traveling around the region, and eventually working from home with companies across the country that delivered meat.
It wasn’t long before Owen returned to Pearson’s Market.
“He went back (to Pearson’s) three times,” Evelyn said. “Before the Army, after the Army and after working in sales. He just loved the people.”
In the spring of 1995, Owen accepted a position in the meat department of a new grocer in town, Wegmans.
In 2013, Owen was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent radiation and chemotherapy. Following his treatment, Evelyn says he was doing better and he returned to work.
“Even when he was sick, he didn’t want to retire,” Evelyn said. “He loved what he did.”
In December 2016, after a brief illness landed Owen in the hospital, he decided it was time to retire.
“He knew in his heart he couldn’t do it anymore,” Evelyn said.
On January 3, Owen and his family celebrated, at Wegmans, his 21 years with the company. He passed away less than a week later; at home with his family by his side.
To keep his memory alive, friends and family of Owen recently established a scholarship fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.
The Norman Owen Scholarship Fund will provide financial support to graduating seniors from Jamestown, Falconer, Frewsburg, Maple Grove and Southwestern schools studying a vocation or trade.