Cover photo for Barbara Jane Osment's Obituary
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Barbara Jane Osment

January 10, 1938 — August 6, 2023

Fernandina Beach, Fla

Barbara Jane Osment



Barbara Jane Osment, 85, formerly of Sylva, NC and Harpers Ferry, WV, passed away at home in Fernandina Beach, FL on August 6, 2023 after several months of declining health.

Born in Dothan, AL, Barbara was the oldest of the three daughters of Haywood and Dressie Arnold.  She grew up in Pensacola, FL and attended Carson-Newman College, where she met and fell in love with student body president, Joseph Luther Osment.  The two were married in 1957, and this past December celebrated their 65th anniversary.

The couple moved to Ft. Worth, Texas, where Luther graduated from Southwestern Theological Seminary and Barbara completed her studies at Texas Wesleyan University.  She majored in home-economics, a degree her five children would later have fun with, as it went mostly unused.  Her talents and passions, instead, centered around music, church, dogs, cats – and of course, her family.   Son Tim was born in 1960 while Barbara and Luther were still in Texas.

Daughters Janey and Ashley and son Joey came next, born in Asheville, North Carolina, where Luther pastored two churches.  In 1967, the growing family moved to Cary, North Carolina, where Luther continued pastoring and also began a long tenure with the NC State Baptist Convention.  

Youngest son Matthew was born in Cary in 1971, which was also the year the family moved to Sylva, North Carolina, and Barbara came into her own.  Her love of dogs led her to breeding – mostly Old English Sheepdogs - but also one rogue litter of Bassett Hounds.  That litter changed Barbara’s life forever.  She traded one of the puppies for a fiddle and the rest was history.

Always an excellent pianist, Barbara began to learn the string instruments of the Appalachians, and her children followed suit.  The Osment family band began performing around Western North Carolina in the mid-1970s, including several trips to and trophies from the Fiddlers Grove Convention in Union Grove, NC – and even a performance at the World’s Fair in Knoxville, TN in 1982.

Barbara started the Osment Music Studio from her big old rambling house on the hill during that time, where for 40 years she taught piano, banjo, dulcimer, guitar, mandolin – and even clogging – to hundreds of Sylva’s children and adults.   She organized several musical groups --Little People, Shortnin’ Bread, Angel Band, to name a few.  She was always active in church music, recruiting parishioners to play along during worship.  In some small churches, it seemed more of the congregation was “on stage” strumming and singing than in the pews.  Whether playing along or simply encouraging, Barbara was a quiet leader, whose smile charmed and comforted the room. 

Barbara was a voracious reader.  Before beginning her day, she had a regular morning routine of coffee, toast & orange marmalade, and some dense, spiritual, Victorian prose like George McDonald or some “lighter” enlightenment like Francis Schaeffer or C.S. Lewis.  There were always several dogs at her feet and she usually had a cat in her lap.

Visiting Barbara, folks would encounter family and friends coming and going, music students and their parents passing their time, and a variety of cats and dogs keeping the rooms full of fur and flurry.  Many a lost or abandoned pet made its way to the Osment house.  There they usually found a permanent home.  Barbara kept a little snaggle-toothed, one-eyed dog that nobody else wanted, prompting a friend to comment, “He sure fell into a tub of butter.”

An eccentric and fun “GrandBobbie,” Barbara taught her grandchildren to play music, watch McGyver (she had taped every episode on VHS) and love Narnia.  The record player in her home was usually playing one of her three favorites: Chopin, Burl Ives and Johnny Cash.  In later years, she would add a cassette player, with recordings of her own children and bands playing the likes of Wildwood Flower, Cripple Creek, I’ll Fly Away – and her favorite – Farther Along.

Barbara and Luther skipped retirement, moving instead to Harpers Ferry, WV in 2007 where Luther became pastor at Camp Hill Wesleyan (Barbara’s sister’s church) and Barbara started the Angel Band, which still continues today.  The band even traveled in Barbara’s blue Honda Oydessy, the Angel Van.  The Angel Van is still alive, carrying Barbara’s great-grandchildren about their day.  After eight wonderful years in Harpers Ferry, the Osments moved to Fernandina Beach, FL to be near family.  

Barbara is survived by her husband, Luther Osment, and her children: Tim Osment (Dawn) of Havre de Grace, MD; Jane McDonald (C.A.) of Fernandina Beach; Joe Osment of Mt. Storm, WV; and Matt Osment (Stefanie) of Chapel Hill, NC.  

Her grandchildren are Kate McDonald Chung (Daniel) of Fernandina Beach; Laura McDonald Norwood (Brent) of Athens, GA;  Mary White (Dan) of Sydney, Australia; Joe McDonald (Aubrey) of Chicago; Sunny Osment (Carlos) of Chapel Hill; Jesse McDonald (Emily) of Olive Branch, MS; Keaton McDonald (Anna) of San Diego; and Bowen and Chet Osment of Chapel Hill.  Her great grandchildren are Benjamin, Laura Grace, and Clara Chung; Patrick and Peter Norwood; Noelle and Jeremiah McDonald; Castanea Currie; and Nicole McDonald.

Barbara is also survived by her sisters, Cynthia Bryant of St. Augustine, FL; and Deborah (Zan) Fleming of Harpers Ferry, WV.  Barbara was preceded in death by her parents and her daughter, Ashley Osment, with whom she is now singing, “Farther along we’ll know all about it/ Farther along we’ll understand why/ Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine/ We’ll understand it all by and by.”

A memorial service for Barbara Jane Osment will be held in Fernandina Beach in late September.  Cards and letters can be mailed to Luther Osment, The Lakeside, 649 Amelia Island Pkwy, Apt. 220, Yulee, FL 32034




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