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Tony Osborn’s soup-er 100 year milestone

Lenten Soup NightActive community member Tony Osborn turns 100 Tony Osborn 100
Active community member Tony Osborn at the Lenten Soup Night.

Well-known for his community contributions and a published author of local history, Tony Osborn celebrated his 100th birthday recently surrounded by family.

Tony came to Bundaberg as a four-year old when his father, the Reverend Harold Osborn, was appointed minister of the Christ Church Anglican Church.

Tony’s daughter Sue Grother shares her father’s fond memories of growing up in the Bundaberg Region.

She said Tony had worshipped at the Christ Church Anglican Church in the old rectory on Bourbong Street and he had a wealth of knowledge about the parish.

“Realising he was the keeper of much of the parish history Tony started to record a book in his 90s,” she said.

“The result was the publication, Pioneers, Parishioners and Priests of the Anglican Church Bundaberg, which was printed when Tony was 92.”

Soup-er contribution

Tony was also the brains behind the now popular Lenten Soup Night concept which has been running for 27 years.

In the lead up to Easter each year, the event sees a group of local men cook a basic meal of soup to recognise the season of Lent and the community is invited to join in.

Tony Osborn with daughters Sue Grotherr and Margaret Appo. Tony Osborn 100
Tony Osborn with daughters Sue Grotherr and Margaret Appo. Photo: contributed.

Working life

After attending Bundaberg West State School and then Church of England Grammar School Tony started his career life as an apprentice fitter and turner at Fairymead Mill.

Working on the Fairymead’s plantations in the Solomon Islands he was responsible for the maintenance of the machinery.

Sue said after returning to Bundaberg in 1950 and marrying Marjorie Fagg, the daughter of well-known Sharon farmers, Tony was reluctant to return to the Solomons with his young bride.

“It was then he decided to leave Fairymead and commence working at the Bundaberg Foundry,” she said.

“He worked there for some years before accepting the position of maintenance manager at Bundaberg Technical College situated in the Bundaberg State High School grounds.

“However, farming was Dad’s first love and in the early 1960s he and Mum moved to her family farm, where he became a sugar cane farmer until his retirement in 1996.

“Dad still lives on the property and enjoys getting his hands in the soil.

“He can usually be found in his greenhouse or tending to the fruit trees he planted.”

Tony has always believed in giving back to the community and enjoyed being an active member of the Hinkler Lions Club.

He was a scout leader for many years at the Bundaberg Boy Scouts in Quay Street near the old butter factory before they moved to their new home in North Bundaberg.

Two of Tony’s sons played Australian Rules in the early 1970s Bundaberg competition.

He didn’t hesitate to help establish the North Bundaberg Australian Rules Club, now known as Across the Waves, holding various positions on the committee including president.

Tony said he had seen many changes during his 100 years.

“I remember Bundaberg when there were only a few bitumen streets, no traffic lights or roundabouts,” he said.

“You had to ring the telephone exchange and give the switchboard operator the number you wanted to contact.

“I’ve seen the sugar industry move from cane fires and hand cutters to green harvesting and complete mechanisation.”

Tony Osborn with children Margaret Appo, Sue Grotherr, Mark Osborn, John Osborn and Kay Cowan. Photo: contributed. Tony Osborn 100
Tony Osborn with children Margaret Appo, Sue Grotherr, Mark Osborn, John Osborn and Kay Cowan. Photo: contributed.

Tony Osborn 100 year birthday

Sadly Marjorie, whose birthday was the same date as Tony’s, passed away in 1992.

Tony’s family includes five children, 10 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

Tony said the secret to living a long and happy life was to ensure he was surrounded by family and friends while always keeping a look out for new adventures.

Another birthday celebration took place this weekend with the parishioners of the Christ Church joining him for a morning tea and birthday cake following the 7 am service.

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