April 17, 2014

Lynwood Osborne, homegrown hero

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Veteran firefighter to serve as town’s parade grand marshal

Lynwood Osborne will serve as grand marshal of the 2012 Independence Day Parade in Williston. January will mark Osborne’s 60th year of service with the Williston Fire Department.

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

The grand marshal of Williston’s 2012 Independence Day Parade is the living embodiment of the parade’s “homegrown heroes” theme.

Lynwood Osborne, 79, is as homegrown as Willistonians come, having been born and raised in the same North Williston Road house where he still resides.

And if his Korean War record isn’t proof enough of his heroism, January will mark Osborne’s 60th year of service with the Williston Fire Department.

Osborne, known as “Ozzie” to most locals, was 21 when he joined the fire department in 1953. In those days, Osborne recalled, it was strictly a volunteer department for what was then a “regular farming town.”

“You had barn fires, farm fires, old houses with old wiring in there, a lot of chimney fires,” Osborne said. “I’d say 30 years ago is when it really started to change. The town started to change. There were more houses, newer houses, more businesses, different types of fires.”

Osborne, who once served as assistant fire chief, currently holds the rank of lieutenant. As the department’s safety officer, he is in charge of ensuring that firefighters receive proper training.

“What I think I like about firefighting is I am helping people,” Osborne said. “Now, when the younger people are coming up, I help train them and give them my knowledge.”

Williston Fire Chief Ken Morton, himself a 30-year veteran of the department, said Osborne’s dedication to the fire department makes him deserving of the grand marshal honor.

“He loves the department,” Morton said. “You’ve got to give anybody credit who shows up for 60 years.”

Osborne has decided that his 60th year of fighting fires will be his last. He has set a retirement date of Feb. 4, 2013—the same date he and his wife, Thelma, will celebrate 58 years of marriage.

“I just kind of know that I’m ready,” he said. “I can feel myself slowing down.”

The former Army mechanic doesn’t plan to sit idly in retirement, however.

“I’ll probably find another job somewhere,” Osborne said. “I used to deliver car parts. That is a real fun job. I’m a mechanic at heart, really.”

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