Mary Owen:  The Driving Force for Sports Turf Management in New England

I first met Mary Owen, UMass Turf Specialist, in 1990 while attending a Turfgrass Seminar in Springfield, MA.  I had just become involved in sports turf maintenance for a municipality.  Mary was one of the speakers and after the presentation I approached her with some questions. She had an easy going manner, a friendly demeanor and a willingness to help others in the quest for safe, playable athletic fields.  You could tell she also possessed a drive and passion for the industry that is unrivaled.  After answering my questions she then told me about a meeting coming up that I needed to attend.

This is where I first learned that you cannot say no to Mary.  The meeting Mary had me attend was the founding meeting of the New England Sports Turf Managers Association (NESTMA).  Mary was a driving force in putting together the slate of officers and the board of directors.

Mary was determined to see NESTMA be as a thriving and relevant organization that promoted education, networking and the industry as a whole. Mary’s number one goal was and is to put people in a position to succeed in delivering safe, playable athletic fields throughout New England whether at a college, pro-stadium, municipality or local school.

Mary became NESTMA’s first woman president in 2002 and I was proud to be the vice-president and learn from her leadership style.  Mary helped take NESTMA to a new level and made NESTMA the “go to” organization for sports turf managers. Shortly, thereafter, NESTMA became an official chapter of STMA through a model agreement for Chapters that is still in use today.

When you think of Sports Turf in New England you immediately think of Mary Owen.  She is a mentor, educator, supporter and more than that, a friend.  I have learned much and benefited from knowing her.  She encouraged my career every step of the way and still challenges me to be involved and approachable.  With her no idea is dumb; it may just need to be refocused and reworked.  She has been recognized with many awards, locally and nationally, all of which are well deserved.

As she heads into retirement we will miss her, but she has left a strong legacy for us to continue. I’m sure the passion she brought to the industry will now carry into her retirement.

Mary, we wish you much success in your retired life.  Enjoy your family and may health and happiness be with you on your new journey.

by David Pinsonneault, October 20, 2020



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