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Obituary

JAMES (JIM) CLAUDE OSBORNE (published on September 20, 2008)



JAMES (JIM) CLAUDE OSBORNE James Claude Osborne (Jim), M.D., died on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at his home in West Vancouver, in his 85th year. He is survived by seven children, one stepchild, 15 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, his brother Tom, his wife Wanda and his close companion of nine years, Irene Hart. He was born in 1923 and raised in a tiny house on Stranmillis Avenue in St. Vital (Winnipeg), MB, where he attended Glenlawn Collegiate and was awarded the Governor General's medal and an Isbister scholarship. He sang in the school choir but when the choir made its first public appearance, he and one other choir member were asked to move their lips without making a sound. Soon after that he took up the mouth organ, and over the years he became a skilled performer of jigs and reels, and eventually a form of the blues. In 1944 he met Wanda Baldock while jitterbugging to the music of Mart Kenney and his Western Country Gentlemen at an Army dance in the Eaton's Annex. In 1946 he graduated as a Medical Doctor from the University of Manitoba, and that summer he and his new wife Wanda went to Pangnirtung on Baffin Island, where he served for four years in St. Luke's Hospital as medical officer, coronor and Justice of the Peace, and where Wanda gave birth to the first two of their six children, with Jim as obstetrician. His medical practice on Baffin Island covered several hundred square miles accessible by dogsled in the winter and by Peterbilt boat in the summer. He and Wanda are remembered fondly by people in Pangnirtung, where he became fluent in the language and a good companion on the walrus hunt. At a community dance in the police warehouse he introduced a rousing rendition of Buffalo Gals on the harmonica; 50 years later on CBC radio he heard the same rendition performed on the accordion by a young Pangnirtungmiut who had learned it from his elders. When the program was over, he wrote in his memoir, I got out my old mouth organ and ripped off several choruses, jigging around the living room as I played. . He received a Specialist Certificate in General Surgery and a Fellowship in the Royal College of Surgeons after training in Edmonton at the Royal Alexandra and Charles Camsell hospitals. He went to Chicago to receive a fellowship in the American College of Surgeons, but the only diploma awarded at the ceremony went to the movie actor Ronald Reagan as a publicity stunt - an absurdity that appealed to Jim's sense of the ridiculous. (His own certificate arrived later in the mail in Edmonton.) In 1956 he moved his growing family to Kamloops, where he joined the Irving Clinic, and then to North Vancouver, where he entered practice as a General Surgeon at Lions Gate Hospital and continued to practise well into his 70's. He loved Dickens, Shakespeare, Verdi and Robert Service. He was an avid skier, windsurfer and ocean swimmer, tennis player and lawn bowler, an ardent guitar player and performer, and a wonderful storyteller. His devotion to these activities opened up worlds in sport and music, art, literature and publishing to his children and his grandchildren. He was a pioneer skier at Tod Mountain and at Whistler Mountain, where he helped organize the Doctors Service, and in 1998, when he was 75, he skied a total of 89 days on the mountain, a feat that he described as the zenith of his skiing career. When he was 78, he received the Old Guy award at the Dave Murray Ski Camp. He finally put away his skis when he was 81, and began to teach himself jazz chords on the guitar so that he could accompany Irene Hart, who liked to play jazz and dance tunes on the piano. He lived an active life and it was not easy for him to slow down, and to feel himself, as he put it, going backward instead of forward. . Jim is remembered by his children: Stephen Osborne, Thomas Osborne, Judith Osborne, Patty Osborne, Jill Osborne, Jane Osborne, Robert Everett-Green; his stepdaughter Melanie Cameron; his grandchildren: Caitlin and Delaney Blewett; Robin, Cassia and Travis Osborne-Streb; Manuel Osborne-Paradis; Adam, Miranda and Garette Osborne; Alana Diebel; Skylar Osborne; Mavis and Leo Everett-Green; Cailey and Quinn Cameron; and his great-grandchildren Julia Perroni and Nya Streb. A memorial gathering for Jim Osborne will be held at West Vancouver United Church, 2062 Esquimalt Ave., West Vancouver, on Friday, October 3, 2008, from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please make memorial donations in support of Cowboys Camp, the ski race camp initiated by Manuel Osborne-Paradis to help young skiers develop their racing abilities. Cheques can be sent to: B.C. Alpine Association, 1196 Deep Cove Rd., North Vancouver, BC V7G 1S3. Website: manuelracing.com/camp.htm. Buffalo gals, won't you come out tonight And dance by the light of the moon.


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