Sylvester M. Owens, who was a native of Rutherford County, moved to Asheville in the early nineteen-twenties, where he found employment as houseman-chauffeur in the household of the late Chauncey D. Beadle who was at that time superintendent of the Biltmore Estate.

As Mr. Owens was a father who loved children, he cherished his work in this home where his duties included the tending and supervision of three active young boys. His personal contact with these boys further stimulated his desire to provide for higher education for his own children.

Mr. Owens was eagerly learning the techniques of care of the Biltmore Estate Azalea Gardens through the years. These gardens were Mr. Beadle's pride and joy.

Upon the death of Mr. Beadle, Mr. Owens was appointed gardener in direct charge of the Azalea Gardens. Here he planted a gorgeous azalea display as a memorial to his deceased employer and benefactor.

In 1961 the Biltmore Estate collection was given the President's Award for the Southeastern Rhododendron Show. The trophy is displayed on his mantle and highly prized by Mr. Owens.

He retired in 1965.