Creative Couple Needs Help With Health Issues

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Charlene Vassar Hite and Dean Owen.
  • Charlene Vassar Hite and Dean Owen.

If you've been around the local music scene for any period of time, you probably know the one-and-only J. Dean Owen. If not, local reporter Mark Holmberg profiled him for Style a couple years ago, read about him here.

Owen and longtime girlfriend Charlene Vassar Hite have had a rough year. She is suffering from breast cancer and he has had two heart attacks and was recently in intensive care, unable to breathe. This is the kind of thing, when disaster strikes a lovely creative couple who have brought so much joy to the local community, that online fundraising was made for: You can check out and donate to help them at this gofundme page.

Lana Gentry, one of the organizers of the campaign and a longtime friend of the couple's, says they have been struggling and that each being concerned for the other has added weight to their illness.

"Charlene is a very tender, caring and beautiful woman. We've been friends for more than 20 years," she tells Style. "They are really quite stressed as you can imagine and in a lot of emotional pain. I feel like they need a helping hand in a big way."

I've covered local music and arts scenes on the West Coast for years and here in Richmond (my hometown) and I've noticed that the moments that make me proudest of "the scene" are not when a band gets national praise or makes a killer album -- though that's great. Rather it's the sense of community that sparks alive when someone is in trouble and people pitch in a little, whatever they can, to help them out. That goes for Americans in general, too. We're at our best when we come through for others.

Now before I start sounding too hippiesh, here's Dean (as Iggy Plop) touching himself and guesting with Kepone for the Plan 9 celebration at Hardywood.

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