Oakboro, Southside firefighter was training others until the end

By Chris Miller, for the SNAP

Charles “Chip” Osborne, considered by many one of the most beloved and well-known firefighters in Stanly County, died at his home Aug. 8. He was 61.

Charles “Chip” Osborne

Having served in numerous departments, including most recently as assistant chief of Oakboro Fire Department and as a member of Southside Volunteer Fire Department, “he loved right up until his last breath,” according to his obituary.

The evening before he died, Osborne was busy training multiple fire departments at Endy Fire Department.

“He was a friend of many, an advocate for the Oakboro Police Department, and a dear friend to me as an individual,” Oakboro Police Chief T.J. Smith wrote on Facebook. “Chip seemed to always have the right thing to say when I needed advice. He was a strong family man, and a true hero. I’ve always looked up to him.”

Osborne had lived in Oakboro for many years, becoming involved with the community, including coaching football at South Stanly High School, serving as Oakboro Planning and Zoning Board member and attending Oakboro First Baptist Church.

He was also on the Oakboro Fire and Rescue board and even served as president for a few years.

Smith, in a brief interview, called his friend “the quintessential public servant in that sense because he volunteered time that he didn’t have. He was just always busy.”

A graduate of Southeast Guilford High School, Osborne attended Lees-McRae College and Gardener Webb College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry, per his obituary. He later received a Fire Science degree at GTCC.

Oakboro Fire Chief Rodney Eury said he could not recall another person with more knowledge of the fire service in the county than Osborne, who had been a member of the department since 2013.

As knowledgeable as Osborne was as a firefighter, Eury noted, he was an even better friend, who was always available whenever he needed to talk.

“Chip was somebody that I could call for advice,” Eury said. “It didn’t matter if it was about the fire service or something else. He’s somebody I could always count on.”

Osborne had also been a member of Southside Volunteer Fire Department since 2020, according to Chief Jeff Craven.

Osborne was a mentor to many in the profession, including himself, Craven said.

He especially took an interest in helping young firefighters just starting out.

“The wealth of knowledge that Chip had is just irreplaceable,” Craven said, noting he specialized in Hazmat and Rescue training.

Southside FVD wrote on its Facebook page that Osborne was “a mentor, teacher, and friend to all of us.”

Osborne worked with many other departments during his career including Thomasville Fire Department and Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company, where he served as chief.

He was also employed by the North Carolina Community College system as a facilitator of fire and rescue training, according to the obituary, and he trained multiple agencies along the east coast.

A funeral service will be at 1 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church of Oakboro in the fellowship hall.

He is survived by his mother Geraldine Osborne; fiancé Jill Turner; son Cade Turner; daughter Lauren Osborne; and sister Tammy Faulk.

Chris Miller is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.