Philanthropist Jennings Osborne, whose big Christmas light displays and barbecue feasts are legendary in Arkansas, died Wednesday from complications from heart surgery. Do you have a story or remembrance of him to share? Post it in the Comments area below.
Osborne, 67, had been in the hospital since an April 18 heart surgery. He had since developed complications from that surgery, his friend and attorney, Bud Whetstone, told ArkansasBusiness.com.
Osborne made his fortune in medical research, but was more famous for his giant Christmas light displays and his massive barbecues, where he often fed hundreds of people at a time. On Wednesday, his friends recalled his generosity.
"I'd been all over the United States traveling with Jennings, and he'd hand out hundred-dollar bills like you wouldn't believe -- [to] somebody in a wheelchair or in a bad situation," Whetstone said.
In a statement, Osborne's daughter, Allison "Breezy" Osborne-Wingfield, thanked the state and others for their prayers while Osborne was in the hospital.
"My father was an amazing man who all my life showed what a big heart he had for everyone, young and old and regardless of background or wealth," she said. "Sadly my father's big heart finally gave out. But knowing my 'Dadoo,' there will be fireworks at the gates of Heaven."
"With the passing of Jennings Osborne, Arkansas has lost one of our highest-profile philanthropists," Governor Mike Beebe said in a prepared statement. "He brought comfort and entertainment to countless people, whether feeding disaster victims, donating fireworks, throwing unparalleled tailgate parties or lighting up Disney World.
"While a larger-than-life public figure, Jennings was also a kind and soft-spoken man, who always shared his financial success with others."
"One of our greatest pleasures is going into a small town and feeding every person who comes to our tent. We serve 11 pounds of barbecue to everyone," he said. "We never expect the person to eat all the food in one sitting. Our normal menu consists of a two-pound bone-in beef rib, one whole chicken, three-pound pork sandwich, three heaping slices of pork tenderloin, two slices of beef brisket, four slices of Cajun sausage, potato salad, coleslaw, potato chips, a bottle of Osborne water, one giant candy cane — and we include an Osborne baseball cap.
"Normally 2,000-4,000 people attend our BBQs. We never turn anybody away. We always provide take-home trays so that none of the food goes to waste."
What are your memories of Jennings Osborne? Barbecue, Christmas lights, "Man Vs. Food"? Let us know in Comments below.