May 01, 2019

In Memoriam: Roy Burek

By Leslie Mintz - USEA Staff
Roy Burek in front of the Charles Owen factory.

Charles Owen announced that Roy Burek, Chairman and Owner of the legendary equestrian safety company, passed away on Saturday, April 27th following a heart attack in his sleep.

"Roy was a true gift to equestrian sport," said USEA CEO Rob Burk. "I had the true pleasure of working with Roy and his company Charles Owen over the past several years. He truly cared about the health and safety of our athletes. We should all strive to follow his example."

The USEA and Charles Owen have worked together for many years including the founding of the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award. Charles Owen is the official riding helmet of the USEA.

Roy had over 30 years of personal experience in the safety industry. His grandfather founded Charles Owen in 1911, and the company has since established itself as the gold standard for international equestrian safety.

Roy received a chemistry degree from the University of Oxford (UK) and pursued a career in the corporate world before returning to Charles Owen. Roy was dedicated to leading industry research and setting new standards for safety technology. Roy was recognized by ASTM and the British Horse Society for his contributions to safety research, served on the European Standards Committee, and co-chaired the task group that sets ASTM standards.

Roy's passion for research led to groundbreaking discoveries regarding the variables that determine the severity of a fall and in concussion reduction. He led Charles Owen to think outside the box in order to construct new materials and more accurate standards for helmets and body protectors. Roy also served as an Honorary Visiting Professor at the School of Engineering at Cardiff University.

“Roy committed his life’s work towards making horse riding safer and saving lives,” said Charles Owen. “He will be very sorely missed by us all. We all know how much he believed in this family business and it is now time for us to come together and do Roy proud.”

Charles Owen will now be led by Owen Burek, Roy’s son, who has been working with his father in recent years. “As the fourth generation to Charles Owen, Owen is deeply committed to building on the company’s remarkable 108-year heritage whilst maintaining ‘business as usual’ for employees, retailers, and customers. He is already working closely with senior management in both the UK and USA, including Operations Director Ricky Hone and Director of Sales and Marketing Danielle Santos,” said Charles Owen.

Cynthia Burek – Roy’s sister and a Professor at the University of Chester – will be looking into establishing a trust to fund research on head injury, to continue her brother’s legacy and their grandfather’s mission of Charles Owen being ‘For a Safer World.’

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