A lot has changed since Bill Obsorn ’77 walked the USI campus as a first-generation college student and Navy veteran. Back then, there were only three permanent buildings, some classes were held in trailers and on-campus living was a concept of the future. “It is unbelievable–it’s like a small city now,” Osborn says. “You could see the potential in the University back then.”
Osborn has lived near USI for 40 years and returned to a greatly expanded University as a grounds maintenance worker in 2013, after retiring from a 38-year railroad career. “Coming back to USI was a pleasant diversion,” he says. “I’ve seen this school grow, and I just couldn’t stay away from it.”
He’s now one of the reasons so many people enjoy the beauty of campus. He spends his days picking up litter, trimming tree limbs, mowing, planting and weeding, but is quick to point out that keeping USI’s grounds in top shape is a group effort. “The guys do a great job. It’s a never-ending job, and we work really hard. The grounds are the first thing people see when they come on campus, and we try to keep them pretty for everybody,” he says. “They go the extra mile, and I like working with them.”
His co-workers feel the same way, explaining that Osborn looks out for everyone on the crew, even bringing drinks and treats to share. “No matter what he’s doing, he’s always putting forth a tremendous amount of effort,” one colleague says. “No complaining. He just does what he’s asked,” adds another. “USI means a tremendous amount to him, and it has from Day One. He’s always shared that with everybody,” adds another.
USI pride flows through Osborn’s family, too. His youngest daughter and son-in-law hold USI degrees, and he hopes his granddaughter will earn one of her own. “It just makes me feel good knowing we have such a good school so close, and they don’t have to travel through three states for a good education,” he says. “It means a lot to know your family can follow into something like that. It’s a really good tradition.”
(USI grounds crew members L to R: Dan Kozlowski, Gerry Lewis, Chad Wallace, Jeff Flener, Scott Witham, Bill Osborn, George Thompson, Ken Rice, Dennis Perry. Not pictured: Ryan Kaczmarski, Randall Baxter)
Five Things to Know About Bill Osborn
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Photo Credit: USI