A photo of a Brig Owens football trading card. Brig Owens
Brigman Owens was just two years old when his family moved to Fullerton, the sixth child of the esteemed Owens family. Brig, a multi-sport standout at Fullerton High School, quarterbacked Fullerton College to the Orange Bowl in 1961. He received a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati before starting his 13-year professional career with the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys. He has been inducted into the FUHS Hall of Fame (2017), the Fullerton College Athletic Hall of Fame (1991), the Orange County Sports Hall of Fame, was named one of the 70 Greatest Players in Washington Redskin history, and was recognized with his own “Brig Owen’s Day” in Fullerton in 1973. After retiring from the NFL in 1977, Brig finished law school and went to work for the National Football League’s Players Association, while continuing his work mentoring the next generation of athletes. Throughout his life, he remained active in his local community launching drug prevention programs and promoting youth development and leadership. In 1990, Brig was one of six to receive the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award for his continued commitment to community. Brig Owens passed away June 21, 2022, at the age of 79.
An image of Jewell Plummer Cobb sitting at a microscope. Jewell Plummer Cobb
Jewell Plummer Cobb assumed the Cal State University, Fullerton Presidency Oct 1, 1981. One of 140 applicants, she was only the third female to serve as president in the CSU system, and the first African American woman to lead a major university west of the Mississippi. She was often jokingly referred to as the “Queen of Concrete”, for the sheer number of buildings she was able to get funded and constructed during her tenure as president, including the Engineering and Computer Science buildings, the Ruby Gerontology Center, and the on-campus student housing that now bears her name. She made it a point to shake the hands and congratulate every student that graduated from CSUF, over 27,000 at last count. When Cobb retired in 1990, she said that she hoped to be remembered “as a black woman scientist who cared very much about what happens to young folks, particularly women going into science.” When Jewell Plummer Cobb died January 1, 2017, at the age of 92, she left behind of legacy of leadership and far-reaching vision.
An image of Penny Owens holding a plaque. Penny Owens
Ms Penny Owens, “Auntie” to Brigman and the rest of Fullerton’s Owens Family, spent most of her life asking questions and championing causes from her small apartment on South Balcom Avenue. In September of 1970, after being denied a rental apartment based on her race, she took her case to Fullerton’s Fair Housing Committee. Together they filed a case in Small Claims Court and won a small judgement from the property owner. Though she never received any money, she had proved her case of housing discrimination – the first in Orange County – and began her commitment to the pursuit of justice for herself and others. Still feisty at 73, she was nominated for the NAACP’s “Outstanding African-American Individual Community Service” award in 1993. When Councilmember Chris Norby asked her why she had a bee on her business card, she proudly proclaimed “that means I’m going to sting you!”. Penny Owens, resident of Fullerton for over 50 years, community advocate and activist, died of natural causes April 26, 1999, at the age of 80.
A black and white portrait of Ruby Berkeley Goodwin. Ruby Berkeley Goodwin
In 1941, longtime Fullerton resident Ruby Berkley Goodwin (born 1903) began attending night school at Fullerton College, where English instructor Richard Borst encouraged her in her writing. She subsequently published two books of poetry, From My Kitchen Window (1942) and A Gold Star Mother Speaks (1944). Her acclaimed autobiography, It’s Good to Be Black, universally praised by reviewers and readers, won the coveted Commonwealth Gold Medal for the best non-fiction book by a California writer. The mother of five children, all raised in Fullerton, was named the California State Mother of the Year in 1955. Ruby Berkley Goodwin – teacher, writer, lecturer, poet, journalist, and part-time actress – died in Los Angeles on May 31, 1961, at the age of 57.