Owen Schlosser’s death spurs friends, family to live better lives
The cancer death of 21-year-old athlete William Owen Schlosser from melanoma has been life altering for people who knew him.
“There’s been changes in every single person within our group of friends,” said Tom Fleming, Owen’s best friend.
“I think people feel that the way to honour him now is to live a better life. To not lose their temper as much or to stop smoking or eating junk food every day.”
Fleming said Owen hated to see people treat their bodies poorly, especially smokers.
So it was surprising when Owen, described by his sister Evelyn as “obsessed with being healthy and having a good diet,” was diagnosed with melanoma that had spread through his body.
“He was shocked. Everyone was completely shocked,” Evelyn said.
He died June 2, four months after the diagnosis of the most deadly form of skin cancer.
“If nothing else, it just shows you that this can happen and people really just need to enjoy every day of life because you really don’t know what your life will hold,” Evelyn said.
Owen’s family, soccer coach, and close friends gathered in Evelyn’s liv- ing room last week to share memories.
“When Owen was diagnosed, he said to me, ‘This is only a minor speed bump in my life. I’m going to get through it. I’m going to get through the treatment and I’m going to move on with my life,’ ” his sister Caroline said.
Before Owen was diagnosed, he talked about wanting a change in his life, hoping a new challenge or adventure would come his way.
When told he had cancer, “he really just saw it as something being thrown his way that he would overcome,” Evelyn said.
Owen, a star athlete who ran crosscountry and played soccer and tennis religiously, was always smiling, his friends and family said. He loved to challenge himself. “He just practised all the time. He was always running around with the ball,” Caroline said.
“I really don’t think there was ever a day where he wasn’t playing soccer or tennis, or going for a workout,” Evelyn said.
“And he never missed practice,” said Neil Maciver, Owen’s longtime soccer coach.
After graduating from Strathcona High School, Owen spent two years studying physical education at the University of Alberta before enrolling in industrial design.
Friend Ryan Johnson remembered when Owen excitedly took him to the university design lab to show him a 3-D printer.
“He thought it was the coolest thing ever,” Johnson said, smiling.
Evelyn said her brother was “passionate about design … He would spend hours meticulously drawing and re-drawing one small shape so that it would be flawless.”
His sister Jane remembered the movie nights she often had with Owen, adding he would often rent movies using her account and forget to return them.
“I’d get calls and they’d be like, ‘Jane you have four movies out.’ ” Everyone in the room laughed.
Colin recalled how he felt comfortable going into Grade 10 because being the brother of Owen, who was in Grade 12 at the time, made Colin cool and known by association.
Owen’s brothers and sisters describe his childhood as adventurous and exciting, especially given how many kids were in the family.
“We joked that we already had our own team to play anything because we could just divide into three and three,” Evelyn said.
She said when Owen was diagnosed with cancer, people in his Belgravia-McKernan community came out to support him. “Everyone in the community wanted to fundraise to help pay for his treatments.”
Two fundraising events organized for Owen, “Rallying Around Owen” and “Spring Slam Schlossapalooza,” both helped raised significant amounts of money that were put toward his experimental cancer treatment in Florida.
Countless people came to visit Owen when he was in the hospital, from former teachers to the mothers of kids he coached in tennis.
“We were really inspired by him; by his strength,” said his sister MaryPat.
Owen Schlosser in October 2008, at age 21.