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Betty Virginia Clayton Osborn, 89, of Oak Ridge, TN passed away on October 26, 2008 at her new home in the Kansas City, MO area. She was born Dec 6, 1918 in Mexico, MO to late parents Claud Franklin and LaReine Warden Clayton. She is survived by her husband of 67 years, Wilton Russell Osborn, 90, son Wilton Russell Osborn, II (Chip) and his wife, Anita Schmidt Osborn; brother John Strother Clayton, sister-in-law Jutta Clayton of Rockville, MD; granddaughters Katherine Durwood Osborn and Townes Winston Osborn Miller, her husband Charles William Miller; and grandsons Wilton Russell Osborn, III (Bo) and Tyler Gordon Harnett.
Mrs. Osborn was very well known in Oak Ridge and Knoxville for her involvement in the arts. She was an actress, writer, composer, and lyricist. She appeared on stage in The Great Sebastians, The Music Man, The Miracle Worker, Auntie Mame, Harvey, and My Fair Lady and many others. She composed the music and wrote the lyrics for several musicals including Horse-O-Rama, Flapperama, and Half-Baked Alaska. She was the author-composer-songwriter of another “smash hit” musical, Babette.
In celebration of Oak Ridge’s 25th Anniversary, Mrs. Osborn wrote the music and lyrics for A Thousand Suns, a musical about the “Secret City”, its people, and the development of the Atomic Bomb, which ended World War II. The show was so popular that it was performed at the Oak Ridge football stadium. Vinyl records were made of the 15 songs she composed. Some of the music titles were White Lightnin, We’re Safe Behind Gates, Where Are You From Mr Oak Ridger, and the title song, A Thousand Suns.
In honor of the retirement of the late Paul Ebert, Director of the Oak Ridge Playhouse and long time friend, Betty Osborn wrote The Case of the Diligent Director. It showcased Mr. Ebert’s 36 years of building the successful Oak Ridge Playhouse.
For her years of service to the Oak Ridge Playhouse, Mrs. Osborn was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.
Betty Clayton Osborn attended George Washington University, and then transferred to the University of New Mexico, where she met her future husband, Wilton. They were married at the beginning of World War II, October 9, 1941 in Washington, D.C.
She was a member of Colonial Dames, Daughters of the American Revolution, The Strother Society, The Oak Ridge Music Association, and St. Stevens Episcopal Church. She loved her friends in the Philosophical Group, Monday Thing, and her years with the Bridge Club. She asked that a special thank you be sent to all her wonderful friends and family, many of whom wrote, called and reached out to her in so many ways throughout her life and after she moved to Overland Park, KS in February, 2008.
Her memorial will read, “A Thousand Suns” – You lit up our lives.
A family service will be held at her grave site in the Oak Ridge Memorial Park with a reception for Mrs. Osborn’s many friends in Oak Ridge to follow. Details and date are still to be determined.
In memory of Betty C. Osborn, in lieu of flowers, the family suggests a tax deductible donation to The Oak Ridge Playhouse, PO Box 5705, Oak Ridge, TN 37831