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Burl Osborne

Obituary
  • "Dear Betty, Jonathan, Brigette and Harry, I am profoundly..."
    - Ellen Gilleland
  • "Burl was an extremely gentle and kind soul and a credit to..."
    - Patrick Drake
  • "Our prayers and love go out to Betty and her family. Burl..."
  • "I offer the Osborne family my most sincere condolences on..."
  • "My thoughts and prayers are with you, Betty. Burl was a..."
    - Karen Jordan

OSBORNE, BURL, 75, of Dallas, TX, a legendary journalist and devoted husband, father and grandfather, died Wednesday, August 15, 2012.

Born in the coal mining town of Jenkins, KY, Mr. Osborne blazed a trail through life, never slowed by an experimental kidney transplant in 1966, another in 1994, and a successful bout with cancer several years ago.

He began his well-documented career as a reporter with the Associated Press in West Virginia, breaking hard news and writing with a deft touch on the quirky and the heartwarming, claiming early fame with stories about a dog named Brownie, who was trapped for a month in a mine shaft.

Mr. Osborne rose through the ranks of the Associated Press, leaving as Managing Editor of its worldwide news operations in New York to join the Dallas Morning News as its executive editor. There, he led the team of editors and reporters that ultimately won a newspaper war with the rival Dallas Times Herald and eventually rose to publisher and an executive and director of the Morning News' parent Belo Corp., from which he retired in 2001. He returned to the Associated Press as a director, and in 2002, became chairman of the news cooperative's board.

Mr. Osborne would later become a director and interim CEO of Freedom Communications. He joined the board of J.C. Penney in 2003, and headed its human resources and compensation committee. He also served on the board of Andrews McMeel Universal.

During his career, he supported numerous non-profits and trade associations as a board member, officer or trustee including, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, The National Press Institute, the Texas Daily Newspaper Association, the Newspaper Association of America, the Southern Newspaper Association, Southwest Transplant Alliance, the and the Committee to Protect Journalists. He also co-chaired the Pulitzer Prize Board. He was a founding member of the Advisory Council at the Center for Vital Longevity at the University of Texas Dallas and a member of the Board of Visitors at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Despite his numerous professional accomplishments, Mr. Osborne will most be remembered by his friends and family for his fierce loyalty, quick wit, unquestionable honesty, kind heart and generous nature. He also had an enthusiasm for fast cars and fine wine, a passion that fueled his founding of The Dallas Morning News Wine Competition and food festival, an annual event that became one of the largest of its kind.

His unending love for his soul mate and muse, Betty, whom he met in 1971 and whom he married in 1974, was as legendary among those who knew them as were his accomplishments in journalism. They traveled the world together, finished each other's sentences and spoke every day - save for 10 or so when Burl was traveling for business in far flung places with no phones or cell reception.

Most recently, Burl reveled in doting on his 15-month-old grandson, Harry, whom he loved with all his heart.

He is preceded in death by his father, Oliver, his mother, Juanita, who donated his first kidney, and his youngest brother Rick, both of Ashland, KY.

He is survived by his brother, David, who donated his second kidney, and his sister-in-law, Joyce, all of Ashland; his wife Betty, of Dallas and his son Jonathan of Austin and his wife Brigette and their son, Harry.

Memorial donations may be made in Burl Osborne's name to the following: Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute Development Department, Forbes Tower, Suite 8084, 3600 Forbes Avenue at Meyran Ave. Pittsburg, PA 15213; Finance Department, 30 East 33rd St., New York, NY 10016; Committee to Protect Journalists Development Department, 330 7th Ave, 11th Floor New York, NY, 10001.

A memorial celebration of Burl's life and career will be held at 4 p.m. Friday August 24, 2012 at the Meyerson Symphony Hall, 2301 Flora, Dallas, TX, 75201.

Please visit www.sparkman-hillcrest.com to leave your personalized condolences for the Osborne family.

Published in The Courier-Journal from Aug. 21 to Aug. 23, 2012
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