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Rebecca M. Osborn


1921 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Rebecca M. Osborn Obituary
Osborn, Rebecca M.Rebecca McNees Osborn, 92, of Allentown, PA, died August 13, 2014, surrounded by the love of family and friends. Born in Chester, PA on September 21, 1921, she was the third of four daughters born to Wendell George McNees and Helen Bye McNees. A woman of extraordinary intelligence, well-educated at her initiative, Becky spent her life serving others, providing education on a variety of topics, speaking out on issues of peace, justice, and equality and celebrating the joys of the human condition. Growing up in Media, PA, as an inquisitive young girl, Becky displayed many interests including anatomy, assisting a neighboring veterinarian with small animal operations. A 1939 graduate of Media High School, she was co-captain of the hockey team and editor of the newsletter (yearbook). She graduated from Smith College in 1943 with a B.A. high honors in English literature. The next year she completed a program in physical therapy at Harvard Medical School, subsequently working in clinics and programs for children with polio. From 1946 to 1948 she taught English to undergraduate women at the Moravian Seminary for Women in Bethlehem, PA. After her marriage to Lehigh University professor Joseph Osborn in 1948, she honeymooned on a US Forest Service fire lookout station in Montana. She taught English literature and composition at Montana State College in Bozeman, MT, where her two daughters were born. Moving to East Lansing, Michigan, in 1955 she welcomed a son. She and her family then moved back to Bethlehem where her husband taught at Lehigh University. Writing was a lifelong passion, and Becky became a published writer and poet. Daily journals she began in childhood are now part of the Friends Historical Collection at Haverford College. The variety of articles she wrote on marriage, family and psychological health were published in Family Digest, Science Digest, Family Circle, American Science Monitor, American Baby Magazine, Physical Therapy Review, Friends Journal, and the Journal of Religion and Health. Her haiku and poetry were published in several venues. From 1967 to 1970 Becky served as executive director of the Lehigh Valley Mental Health Association in Allentown, PA. In 1972 she earned her MSW from Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. From 1972 to 1975 she worked at the Bethany Children's Home in Womelsdorf, PA as a social worker, and thereafter as a family counselor and marriage counselor for the Family Services Association in Wilkes-Barre, PA before starting her own private practice. Acting on deeply held principles of compassion and advocacy, she volunteered with Helpline, the American Red Cross crisis telephone line assisting troubled individuals, and served as board member and secretary for the Housing Opportunities Association in Bethlehem. A member of Unami Friends Meeting in Pennsburg, PA, she helped organize the United Friends School in Quakertown, serving on its board from 1985 to 2000 and regularly volunteering in the classroom including conducting writing workshops. The Helman-Osborn middle school classroom was named in her honor. In 2013 she received an Unsung Hero award from Lehigh County. Throughout her life, Becky enjoyed concerts and lectures, continued to write, engaged in issues of peace and social justice, and cherished old and new friendships. A life-long Quaker, she understood the spiritual power of silence and the possibility for renewal, clarity and community that comes with group worship. Recognized as a "mover and shaker," Becky inspired those around her with her intelligence, curiosity, active concern for others and zest for life. Survivors: Daughter Julia Osborn of Brooklyn, New York, with her children Katherine and Peter Dutko; Rachel Osborn of Allentown, PA with husband Nicholas Butterfield and children Laurel and Theodore Butterfield; and son Frank Osborn and wife Danielle (Kihn) Osborn of Downingtown, PA and children Lynne and Natalie Osborn; as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and their families. Rebecca was predeceased by Joseph C Osborn; sisters Mary Gorini, Margaret Durgin, and Alice Michael; and son-in-law Marshal Dutko. Services: A memorial meeting will be held Friday, September 19, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. at Richland Friends Meeting, 206 Main Street (corner of Route 309 and Mill Road), Quakertown, PA 18951. A memory tribute may be placed at www.longfuneralhome.com Contributions: In lieu of flowers, to United Friends School, 1018 W. Broad Street, Quakertown, PA 18951; Westtown School, 975 Westtown Road, West Chester, PA 19382; or the Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery AL 36104.
Published in Morning Call on Aug. 30, 2014
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