Ward 5 has lost a champion, Manchester a son.
Arrangements have been announced.
Ward 5 Alderman Ed Osborne passed earlier today after a brief bout with cancer. Doctors identified cancer in Osborne’s liver late last week. Though they believe the cancer started in his pancreas, Osborne was too weak to undergo the testing needed to determine the cancer’s origin. Osborne opted not to attempt treatment knowing the cancer was very advanced and aggressive. He was 75.
A Manchester native, Osborne had missed a number of meetings of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen following the passing of his daughter Karen Osborne Dube on August 28, 2014. He had complained of gastro-intestinal discomfort and an inability to eat following her death, since which he’d lost more than fifty pounds. Osborne’s doctors attributed his condition to the severe emotional distress of losing his daughter, which devastated him.
Osborne and his wife Joy had cared for their daughter during her seven year long battle with breast cancer. Osborne faithfully drove her to all her doctors appointments and treatment visits. She’d moved back into her parents home to be cared for.
His wife of fifty three years, Joy, said Osborne was her life. “We’ve been together 24/7,” she said during a visit I paid to them in the hospital on Tuesday. “We’ve never been apart. He’s taken such good care of me. First my baby and now him. I don’t know what I’m going to do without him,” she said tearfully.
For more than forty years, they worked together in the family’s hair restoration business. Osborne, who was blessed with a full head of shock white hair, often had to tell people “Yes, this is my real hair.”
Politically, Osborne was an icon in Ward 5, which includes some of Manchester’s poorest, toughest neighborhoods and some of its most forgotten. He was a champion for the needs of his wards and the constituents that lived within its borders. Osborne was serving his ninth term, making him one of the city’s longest serving aldermen.
After serving two terms in the 1980s, Osborne returned to elective politics, running unsuccessfully for the newly created Alderman at-Large position in 1997. In 2001, he was ran again for the Ward 5 seat he once held after the passing of Alderman Jim Clancy, who, ironically, lost his life to cancer following the failure of his doctors to diagnose his condition. Osborne trounced his opponent by a nearly three to one margin and has been reelected without any serious challenge since.
In addition to his dedicated, even fierce service to his constituents, Osborne was a known as a stickler on traffic issues, often proposing signage and other measures designed to protect neighborhoods and keep intersections from being blocked, snarling traffic at major crossings.
It wasn’t glamorous work, but he believed traffic issues were integral to the city’s quality of life. The signs alerting motorists to the potential $1,000 fine for blocking intersections was Osborne’s idea. His sense of humor and knack for calling attention to issues was evident in his work, too. The city’s “Meet our judges” and “Smile, you’re on radar” signs sprung from his mind.
Osborne, who fought to change a proposed “Chicken as Pets” ordinance so that residents in his urban ward wouldn’t be deprived of the ability to own them, often raised concern about housing development in the city, believing it had grown too large. He also opposed the sale of the city’s former police station, calling the transaction “the dumbest thing he’d ever seen the city do.”
His crowning achievement may be the installation of the citywide Snow Emergency Alert System, which installed flashing white lights at intersections across the city to alert residents to remove their cars from the streets, lest they be ticketed and towed. In the urban confines of Osborne’s ward, that was a real problem as many of his constituents couldn’t afford to pay the fees to reclaim their cars and needed time to find a place to park.
Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas announced the city would activate the Snow Emergency Alert System for five minutes tonight at five o’clock in tribute to Osborne. Gatsas sought the approval of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to activate the system so all could participate in honoring their departed colleague. In a statement released by his office, Gatsas offered his deepest condolences to the Osborne family and said “Alderman Osborne was a true champion and advocate for the citizens of his ward. He was continually recognized, and will be remembered, for his commitment to constituent service and always putting the needs of the citizens of Ward 5 before politics.”
On a personal note, I have seen many elected officials come and go in the more than quarter century I’ve been involved with Manchester politics and government. Ed Osborne was a genuine man who had little tolerance for the typical political games played by so many. He was a proud man who sincerely cared for the city, especially his ward. However, he was not a man of ego. He honorably presented his beliefs on what was best for his ward and the city of Manchester and stated his positions in clear, simple language that left no doubt about where he stood and why. He wasn’t a behind the scenes kind of guy and stood where he thought was best for the city on issue after issue.
He often told me he listened more than he spoke because God gave him two ears and one mouth, which he said he kept shut except when he thought it necessary to advocate for his constituents or on issues he deemed important, which were often those difficult ones overlooked by many as they often entailed more grit than glamor. He shied away from the spotlight, seeking results not attention.
Ward 5 hasn’t just lost a champion, Manchester has lost one of its sincere sons; a man who cared about its condition and future and dedicated to its service. I am saddened by his passing, by Manchester’s loss and am especially heartbroken for the family he leaves behind, already tragically impacted by the tragic loss of the daughter who fought so valiantly, so long against cancer. I pray the mighty hand of God will lift Ed to his eternal reward and allay the extreme sorry of a family that has endured so much sorrow in so short a time.
May God give rest to his soul and comfort to his family, that they might be strengthened by the knowledge he has been called to the room prepare for him by Christ in his Father’s home.
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