Ralph (RJ) Osborn, 96, passed away peacefully late in the morning of July 10 while a patient at Jane Phillips Hospital, Bartlesville. His children were by his side.
RJ was born in Pawhuska, Oklahoma on October 26, 1923 to Ray J and Lena (Tebo) Osborn at the home of his paternal grandparents. Living in Pawhuska until the age of ten, RJ recalled the “Roaring Twenties,” the “Great Depression,” and the vibrancy of an oil boom town.
As his father followed a career in the oil fields, RJ moved about the Midwest until the family settled on Westminster Street in Independence, Kansas on Halloween Eve in 1936. RJ attended Independence schools until he graduated from Independence Junior College in 1943 and joined the U S Navy.
After selling his bicycle to buy an engagement ring, RJ married Nana Ruth Rains at the First Christian Church in Independence on November 6, 1943 while RJ was on active duty. Their union lasted nearly 75 years, until her passing in September of 2018. After their wedding, Ruth followed RJ about the country as he attended a variety of training schools from New York to San Diego, California. After training, RJ served on an LST (Landing Ship Tank) in the Pacific arena. Proud of his service, RJ attended many LST ship reunions across the country for decades.
When the war ended, RJ attended Kansas State University and he graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering. Following graduation, the couple returned to Independence when RJ accepted a job with the Sinclair Refining Company, Pipeline Division. After various mergers and name changes, RJ retired from Atlantic Richfield in 1985 as Regional Manager for the Mid-continent Area.
RJ joined the First Christian Church in 1932, and over his nine decades of membership served as a deacon, elder, trustee, treasurer, and chairman of the board. During the last two years he photographed members for a church directory.
In addition to his church duties, RJ served on the board of USD 446, the Independence Community College Board of Trustees, as well as the Independence Library Board.
RJ’s interest in photography started in 1936 and he developed his own pictures in a self-constructed darkroom. He leaves a catalog of photos of Independence dating back to the 1930s with stories charting the changes in the community he loved. He photographed numerous weddings and created many portraits, gratis, for friends and families.
In addition to his darkroom, RJ always maintained a workshop where, decades ahead of the DIY craze, he made stools, desks and innovative, unusual, additions to his office space. Even as life changes required downsizing, RJ was never without a workbench, his power tools, soldering irons and collection of lumber.
As well as moving about the world, RJ enjoyed moving about the community in a variety of automobiles including the first Volkswagen Beetle, early Toyotas, a Cadillac, and family station wagons. When in his 80’s he acquired a beloved Toyota MR2, two-seat sports car and enjoyed jack-rabbit starts and tight corners as he shifted the manual transmission.
RJ wrote countless letters to the editor on topics ranging from the death penalty to Will Rogers. His last was published just months before his death. Until hours before passing, he read and listened to the news and expressed his opinions. He continually researched topics on his several computers and assisted other residents of Country Place Assisted living where he resided for the past two years, with their technical questions.
Passionate about the local theatre, RJ tackled a multitude of parts in local Neewollah productions, sometimes reprising the same role, decades apart. RJ and Ruth played bridge together. and also enjoyed traveling the world, visiting a multitude of countries on educational tours. One of his favorite trips was hiking Peru’s high mountains to Michu Picchu to visit Inca ruins.
RJ was preceded in death by his wife, his parents and his only sibling, Clyde Osborn. He is survived by his two children Marsha Hayes (husband David) and Ronald J Osborn, as well as grandchildren Woodman Hayes, Russell J Osborn, and Carrie Osborn. He also leaves four great-grandchildren: Connor Hayes, Millie Osborn, Iris Osborn, and Reuven J Osborn.
Memorial services will be held when travel becomes a safe option and plans are being made to inter Ruth and RJ together in Mount Hope Cemetery. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted with Webb & Rodrick Chapel.
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