The 2014/15 academic year at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, (NEO) marks the institution’s 96th anniversary. The college has planned a dedication ceremony of the NEO Lab Sciences building in honor of Willie and Jane Osborn. In addition, NEO will announce the sixth annual James Mabon Award winner. The event is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Friday, March 27 in the lab sciences courtyard.
The Founders’ Day celebration will begin at 2 p.m. with a program featuring Dr. Jeff Hale, NEO president, Dean Kruithof, Miami’s City Manager and a tribute to the Osborn family, as well as the release of the second volume of the History of NEO A&M College. The event will wrap up with the announcement of the 2015 James Mabon Award winner and end with the dedication of the NEO’s lab sciences in honor of the Osborn family.
Willie and Jane Osborn have been lifetime supporters of NEO. Graduates of Miami High School, they married in 1956 after graduating from college. Willie graduated cum laude from the University of Kansas City School of Pharmacy and returned to Miami in 1958 to work at Wiley Rexall Drug. Jane attended NEO where she discovered a love of vocal music performance. She then graduated cum laude from the University of Tulsa with a degree in psychology.
In 1971, the couple founded Osborn Drugs, Inc., which now includes affiliated locations in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas. In true partnership, Willie and Jane developed a thriving business, participated in church and community activities and raised five children. For more than five decades, Willie served the Miami, Oklahoma community as a dedicated pharmacist. Throughout his career, Willie was honored with numerous statewide and national professional awards.
Jane’s grandfather, Representative James S. Mabon, who was instrumental in the founding of the Miami School of Mines (later NEO A&M College), inspired a lifetime of community service in his granddaughter. Together Willie and Jane were instrumental in the twenty-year restoration of Miami’s Historic Coleman Theatre Beautiful. Jane was named the 1999 Woman of Distinction by the Ozark Area Girl Scout Council, and NEO’s Outstanding Alumnus in 1996.
In 2009, the Osborns were honored with the prestigious Award of Merit for their dedication to NEO A&M College. For years, Willie served on the NEO Foundation Board of Trustees, the President’s Advisory Council, and was inducted as a contributor to the NEO Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014. Willie and Jane were loyal supporters of the NEO Foundation’s annual fundraiser. In addition they provided scholarship funding to the men’s basketball program, and established two scholarships: the JoAn Taylor Scholarship for women in business and the Sam Wynn Scholarship for construction management. The Osborn family continues to believe that education for all is the hope for the future.
“Willie and Jane have been great advocates of education and lifetime supporters of the students, faculty and staff at NEO,” said Jennifer Hessee, executive director of the NEO Development Foundation. “Through their work with Osborn Drugs, the couple dedicated their life to a profession that serves others. It’s a very fitting tribute to name NEO’s Lab Sciences building in their honor.”
During the celebration the winner of the sixth annual James Mabon Founders’ Day Award will be announced, where NEO faculty, staff and students were invited to submit a proposal for a project to continue Mabon’s commitment to building and improving NEO. Last year’s James Mabon Award winner, Rob Rea’s proposal for the construction management program, received $2,000. He used the funding to purchase concrete molds for NEO’s new construction management degree program. Crossland Construction graciously agreed to partner in this project. The class has already completed three molds. The program promised to give back to NEO’s campus through beautification projects.
In honor of Mabon’s pioneering efforts and visionary spirit, NEO named this award in his honor.
“Willie, Jane and the entire Osborn family exemplify what it means to be supporters of NEO A&M College.” Hale said. “They have generously given of their time, energy and financial resources to support our athletic teams, academic programs and the Development Foundation. Their contributions have deeply impacted the college and will continue to do so for years to come.”