Dannetta K. Thornton Owens

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Dannetta Kennon Thornton Owens (born December 15, 1938 in Birmingham; died December 15, 2018) was a professor of foreign languages and dean of continuing education at Lawson State Community College, and a two-term member of the Birmingham Board of Education representing District 5.

Dannetta was the daughter of Daniel Kennon Jr and the former Verna Herron. She attended Graymont Elementary School and Parker High School, graduating as valedictorian of the class of 1955. She went on to complete a bachelor's degree in modern foreign languages at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1959. She earned a master's degree at Indiana University in 1969 and went on to earn an advanced certificate in French at Carleton University in 1967. She continued her education with a PhD in education administration and higher education at the University of Alabama in 1977 and a juris doctor from the Birmingham School of Law in 1996.

Owens began her teaching career at Moton High School in Leeds and later taught at Birmingham's Ullman High School before joining the faculty at Lawson State. She taught modern foreign languages and retired as dean of continuing education.

Thornton Owens served two terms on the Birmingham Board of Education, including one as president. In her bid for a third term in the 2009 election, she narrowly lost to challenger Emanuel Ford. She chaired the board for the Alabama Educational Television Foundation and was vice-chair of the Alabama Educational Television Commission. She was a trustee of the Alabama Children’s Educational Foundation, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Birmingham Festival of Arts, and United Way of Central Alabama.

She was also the president and CEO of Kennon Family Partnership and a deaconess and Sunday School teacher at 6th Avenue Baptist Church. She had two children with her first husband; William and Verna. When she married architect Ken Owens she became stepmother to his sons Kevin and Keith.


  • "Birmingham Board of Education District 5: Dannetta K. Thornton Owens" (August 17, 2009) The Birmingham News
  • "Dannetta Thornton Owens, 80, former Birmingham school board member." (December 18, 2018) The Birmingham Times