Small Town, Big Heart

Devoted to community and family

A sense of “giving back” marked every step of Willie Osborn’s life.

Willie Osborn earned his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1956. Passionate about preserving the best that small-town America had to offer, he started a pharmacy business with a unique partnership model. Through Osborn’s sponsorship and support, 17 other pharmacists now own their own businesses in their communities. He also supported numerous civic efforts in several communities.

Osborn is the 2014 recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award for the UMKC School of Pharmacy. When Willie Osborn passed away unexpectedly in February, 2014, his obituary notice fittingly asked that, in lieu of flowers, people make donations where they would do the most good. Osborn will be honored posthumously at the UMKC Alumni Awards event April 24.

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes outstanding individual alumni and one family with top honors. UMKC will honor its outstanding alumni for 2014 at a luncheon event at Swinney Recreation Center on the UMKC campus. UMKC’s Alumni Association will highlight the recipients’ stories and accomplishments at the luncheon as well as through other events.

After finishing college, Osborn married Jane Mabon, his high school sweetheart, and they returned to their hometown of Miami, Okla., to begin a career and start a family. Osborn worked for a time at Wylie Drugs, where he had held various jobs as a youngster. Later, he owned and operated Osborn Drugs in Miami, which he established in 1971 and where his son, Bill, later became his partner.

With an ownership stake in 24 other pharmacies in Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri, Osborn established a pattern of helping young pharmacists buy into his businesses, making each one a partner. In addition to his business practice of nurturing locally owned small-town pharmacies, Osborn supported youth programs, the Miami Public School System, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, high school sports, music, drama and the arts. He was a member of the Miami Chamber of Commerce, chaired the Miami Downtown Redevelopment Authority and co-chaired the anniversary committees when Miami marked its 75th and 100th years.

Over the years, Osborn spearheaded the effort to restore the historic Coleman Theatre in downtown Miami. Since renewal began in 1989, the theater has never gone dark, attracting visitors worldwide and offering first-run movies, concerts, ballet, opera and children’s productions.

Osborn was recognized for service to his profession by the National Community Pharmacists Association, the Oklahoma Pharmacy Association and the American College of Apothecaries. In 2005, Osborn led a drive among his ’56 classmates to purchase the naming rights of the student lounge in the UMKC Drug Information Center in the UMKC Health Sciences Building, home to the UMKC Schools of Pharmacy, and Nursing and Health Studies.




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