Posted by: calloftheandes | January 13, 2017

Versatile Missionary Retiree Marian Osborne Dies at 87

by Harold Goerzen

New, different, exotic scenes. Borders to cross. Oceans to travel. Different cultures and people. This was how in an article in ANDEX magazine, once published in Quito, Ecuador, for shortwave listeners worldwide, described the radio program, “Passport.”

One of the key contributors to the program that aired on Radio Station HCJB for many years was Marian Osborne, a tall, dignified mother of three who loved variety and the spice of life. Her diverse background, sense of humor and desire to take on new challenges made her an ideal producer for the entertaining show.

Marian Osborne

Marian Osborne

Putting together this and many other programs for the station was just one of Osborne’s many roles while serving with Reach Beyond for 33 years, first in Quito and then at the mission’s international headquarters in the U.S. She died in Windsor, Colo., on Thursday, Dec. 29, after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 87.

Marian Jane Osborne, the daughter of Swedish immigrants John and Frieda Selin, was born in Chicago on June 27, 1929. Her family moved to California when she was 16, and she graduated from a high school in Pasadena.

After a year at Pasadena Junior College, she attended Rockmont College (now Colorado Christian University) in Denver, Colo., completing her bachelor’s degree in education. Years later she earned her master’s degree in communication from Wheaton College, studying by correspondence and taking classes from visiting professors in Quito.

It was during her student years in Denver that she met her husband-to-be, John, and they married on Aug. 24, 1951. They would have three children, Dave, Steve and Kathleen.

Osborne’s first job was as a social worker in Denver. Then she and her husband worked for a year as houseparents at a children’s home in New Britain, Conn. This helped prepare them for a long-term assignment, directing the Faith Home Teen Ranch in Turlock, Calif., a facility for delinquent boys.

“At the boys’ ranch I worked as a cook, laundress, houseparent and shopper, and we helped in [fundraising],” Osborne noted. She and John also sponsored the youth group at Turlock Covenant Church.

Reach Beyond retirees Travis and Margaret Gowan recall meeting Marian and John while they were fellow students in Denver before eventually serving alongside each other in Quito.

“We hit it off almost immediately,” Margaret wrote. “I sang with Marian in a girls’ sextet, and the four of us were in the college choir. As I recall, it was a while before Marian and John started dating.”

While the Osbornes enjoyed their rewarding ministry of helping emotionally disturbed boys, they also sensed God’s prompting to serve in foreign missions.

“As a teenager I dedicated my life to serve God, and missions was always a high priority,” Marian explained. “After 17 years at the boys’ ranch, we felt God directing us to move on. Missions seemed to be the way to go, and when we thought of missions, we thought of Ecuador. We debated between SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics, a sister organization to Wycliffe Bible Translators) and HCJB, and we decided that HCJB would be the best place for us.”

They applied with the organization in 1972, and a year later they arrived in Ecuador to serve primarily in administration, broadcasting and hospitality.

Marian did everything from scriptwriting for both radio and television to helping with music (piano and singing), producing radio programs, creating stage sets for TV productions, answering English correspondence, leading Bible studies and performing skits for special occasions. Her special interests included painting, sewing, decorating, flower arranging, drama and tennis.

John and Marian were the first managers of the present Reach Beyond guesthouse in Quito (now called the Quito Connection), and they were active in leading tours of the ministry in Ecuador.

“Marian was very kind and friendly,” recalled retiree Chuck Howard. “Her creative and artistic talents were put to good use…. She was a wonderful hostess both in the guesthouse and with the many HCJB tour groups that came to Ecuador during their time here.”

“I enjoyed the diversity of opportunities,” Osborne said. “I like variety and change of pace plus contact with lots of people. Working with the tours was a great experience of relating my enthusiasm for HCJB and seeing it develop in others as they became informed and saw what was happening.”

In 1985 John and Marian transferred to the mission’s international office in Miami, Fla., where John served as director. Together they also had an outreach to international students attending the University of Miami.

John and Marian Osborne

John and Marian Osborne

The Osbornes followed the organization when the office moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1992, continuing to serve in areas such as mission representation, helping with fundraising dinners and broadcasting. Marian also had a ministry of mentoring young mothers.

In 1999 they were loaned to the Association of Christian Schools International to help at the ministry’s guesthouse in Budapest, Hungary, for one year. The following year they returned to fill in for three months.

The Osbornes were known for their sense of humor and hilarious skits, making newcomers and old-timers alike feel at home.

“A gracious hostess, a sweet spirit, a ready smile, a wonderful sense of humor. All of these characteristics and many more were hallmarks of Marian’s daily life,” described Reach Beyond retiree John Adams. “Memories of the skits she wrote and sometimes performed at staff meetings or tour presentations quickly come to mind.”

Retirees Doug and Darlene Peters agree, remembering Osborne as a “multitalented lady with a servant heart who shared her God-given gifts and skills with others. Her character portraits, some humorous and others biblically based, were always special. It was a joy to be in their home, tastefully decorated by Marian, to enjoy fellowship and food.”

The Osbornes remained active with Reach Beyond until John’s passing in December 2006. A few years later she moved to Windsor, Colo., living just blocks from her son Steve and family.

“Mom fought Alzheimer’s disease with increasing difficulty in mobility and speech this past year,” Steve related, adding that she was doing “fairly well” until two falls in the past year set her back, the first breaking her clavicle and the second her pelvis.

Never regaining her strength, she spent the last two weeks of her life at her son’s house while under hospice care.

“Mom maintained her smiling cheerfulness throughout this whole ordeal,” Steve said. “She was frustrated mostly at not being able to communicate [very well], but she never complained. At one point she said to her caregiver, ‘I can’t wait till the Lord returns. How about you?’ That was the longest complete sentence she had spoken in months.”

Osborne is missed by her two sons, Dave and Steve, and nine grandchildren. She was predeceased by John, her husband of 55 years, and her daughter, Kathleen.

The family has asked that memorial gifts be made to Dave Osborne’s ministry to street kids in Kenya (Agape Community Fellowship, P.O. Box 445, Buena Vista, CO 81211).

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