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.
Theresa Ann Lincicome of North Little Rock and Christopher Andrew Harrell of Jonesboro, Georgia
What was your overall inspiration?
I wanted the look to be soft and natural with a strong vintage influence. I focused on a palate of soft neutrals with blush and sea foam accents. St. Edward and the Arts Center are so beautiful--I didn’t want a strong décor theme to take away from that, I wanted to add to it.
What were the interesting personal touches and unique details?
There are so many. Chris grew up in Georgia and went to the University of Alabama, and I grew up in Arkansas and went to the University of Arkansas, so the South is an important part of who we are. We focused the menu around this: shrimp and grit fritters, fried green tomatoes, macaroni and cheese. It was a celebration of the place we love so much.
Theresa & Christopher’s most steal-worthy idea?
A highlight for everyone was the Groom’s Cake--actually Tequila Shots--Chris jokingly mentioned that he did not want a cake, but Tequila Shots and Simply the Best made it happen in a very classy way. It was fun and very “us.” Not to mention it got the party started very quickly.
How did you customize your wedding?
I found my dress the first day looking at the second place we visited, and I just knew… “This is the dress I am going to marry Christopher in.” So much of the wedding grew from my dress. The soft vintage colors, the detailing in our stationary, the bridal party attire. Also, I have always loved antiques and vintage jewelry. I was looking through old pictures and saw my aunt’s veil from her wedding. After some tea staining by my mom, it was perfect. It felt so right to wear that on my wedding day. It was my small way of acknowledging the wonderful examples of marriage that Chris and I are so blessed to have been surrounded by.
How did you save money?
I took on a TON of craft projects, in hindsight maybe too many. Fortunately, my parents and Chris were a ton of help! I made the chandeliers for the centerpieces, the flower girls’ outfits, the favors and a sundry of other random things. You can always make something cheaper than you can buy it, and it has a more personal touch. I am still in love with how the chandeliers turned out, but let me tell you, that was a LABOR of love.
Q: What one detail truly made the wedding yours?
We had a sit down dinner. We actually ran into several places that thought we were crazy for wanting to do this with a large wedding, but the Arts Center and Simply the Best made it happen. It was wonderful because while everyone was being seated we were able to have a moment of quiet together and eat privately and then were able to visit each table. It was important to us to be able to thank everyone for coming to celebrate with us.
Was it stressful planning a wedding for 250 guests?
I can’t say enough about the wedding vendors that we chose. I picked people that I trusted--people that got my vision. Then, I just let them do their thing. I didn’t get too caught up in the tiny details; they are the experts. Everything came together better than I pictured. I could also go on for hours about how wonderful Amy Carper of Carper Creative and her photography team were. They set a calm tone, and that continued throughout the day. They kept the day moving and the pictures…Are you kidding me??? Amazing.
Tell us a little bit more about the day?
The day was a wonderful blur. It’s funny, there were a lot of little things that I could have freaked out about (the groomsmen were running late, no one signed the guest book, they couldn’t get our dinner play list to play), but honestly that day, none of it mattered. I knew I was about to start my life with a wonderful man and that made everything ok. I was full of joy. I looked around a few times while EVERYONE was on the dance floor shaking it to the awesome band under the stars and just thinking, “This is what all the planning was for: THIS MOMENT.”
Ladies, there’s not a lot of time left! This is a summer sale you won't want to miss! Now through Saturday, July 30, Low's Bridal & Formal in Brinkley is hosting its famous semi-annual ½-price sale!
Every line in the store is on sale (seriously!), including beautiful designs by Mori Lee, Maggie Sottero, Allure Bridal, Casablanca,Enzoani and many more. No matter what your style—from fitted to flowing to beaded to basic—you're sure to find the dress of your dreams!
Low's is located at 127 W. Cedar Street in Brinkley.
Call (870) 734-3422 to book an appointment, or for more information.
On the morning of our first full day of staycation in north Arkansas, we headed out to paddle the Buffalo National River. On the way, we stopped at Coursey's on Highway 65 in St. Joe to load up on smoked ham and turkey sandwiches. It’s Old School: two counters with smoked meat hanging behind both of them. Good stuff.
As we entered Gilbert (pop. 33), we marveled at the simplicity of the town. It’s truly like stepping back into the 19th century. Buffalo Camping and Canoeing was founded in 1901. The main store that houses the reservation office still has the original U.S. Postal Service mailboxes on the wall as you enter. Long, heavy wooden counters and shelves display walking sticks, T-shirts, river shoes, Koozies, beef jerky and everything else one needs for a great day on the river.
Ben Fruehauff is the owner/operator of Buffalo Camping and Canoeing, and he is my son’s new hero. Ben shared his memories of Aug. 15, 1970, when he sat on the bench outside the general store with his father and brother after a three-day float trip.
“Take a mental picture,” his father said. Many years later, after a stint playing Georgia Bulldog football for Vince Dooley (is it any wonder he’s my child’s hero?), Ben returned to Gilbert and purchased the outfitters and general store. In addition to being an approved concessioner of the Buffalo National River, Ben’s place has several river cabins for rent.
A shuttle took us to Tyler Bend Visitor Center, where we put our canoes in the water. It’s a six-mile journey from Tyler Bend to Gilbert, which can mean anywhere from four hours to six hours, depending on how much you piddle around. It's quite doable for a family with kids. Ours are ages 8 and 11, so they're self-sufficient. The trip might be more difficult with smaller children.
We set out making great time, hitting the two-mile mark in only an hour. We stopped for a long swim and picnic about halfway through. Further on down the river, we watched kids jumping off bluffs (insane!) and learned to navigate rapids. We hopped in for a few quick dips along the way and made it back to Gilbert in five hours. Not bad for a bunch of city slickers.
All of us had a wonderful time. The canoeing was easy-going despite the fact the river was very low. There were a few places where we had to walk the canoe, but not many. We look forward to doing it again in the fall when the river is higher.
My greatest success story of the day: Not one of us emerged sunburned! I think I deserve a Mom of the Year Award for that one.
Next: We travel back in time to experience a castle in the making at Ozark Medieval Fortress.
I’ll confess it: Arkansas runs deep in me. And I want it to run deep in my children.
As a child, my family owned a VW Camper. We set out on weekends during the school year and for weeks at a time during the summer to camp, canoe, swim, fish and float all the parks and waterways in the state. Devil’s Den. Woolly Hollow. Petit Jean. Lake Sylvia. Buffalo River National Park. We hit them all and more.
We’ve been back in Arkansas for almost five years, and yet my children have yet to see some of those places. My husband and I decided to rectify that this summer, with a “staycation” right here in Arkansas.
We chose the 1929 Hotel Seville in Harrison as home base. This boutique hotel is located in downtown Harrison, not far from the courthouse square. The newly remodeled rooms are quite comfortable. Be sure to ask for a suite, as the rooms are larger and can accommodate a family of four.
John Paul’s restaurant has a menu that pleases kids and has a variety of options adults will like as well. Our recommendation: Any of the pasta dishes. Rooms include a continental breakfast, which makes it easy to stay within a vacation budget.
Up next: Our first full day includes a trip down the Buffalo National River.
Christina Edwards of Maumelle and Christopher Hughes of Hot Springs are engaged! The couple plans to wed May 19, 2012 at Lake DeGray Lodge and Resort.
Their engagement photos were taken by Princess Anne Photography.
Best wishes to the happy couple!!
Bravo Cucina Italiana, 17815 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, is celebrating National Lasagna Day with half-priced lasagna entrees Thursday (July 28).
Housemade lasagna options include:
Mama’s Lasagna Bolognese, regularly $12.99 at lunch and $15.99 at dinner, available on National Lasagna Day for $6.50 at lunch and $8 for dinner.
Mezza Lasagna Insalata, a half portion of lasagna with choice of Caesar, Chopped or Insalata Della Casa, regularly $11.49 at lunch, available for $5.75 today.
For reservations call (501) 821-2485.
Chief curator for six years at the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, S.C., Todd Herman was selected to be the new executive director of the Arkansas Arts Center based on his successful record with cultivating new donors and creating new audiences. He joined the AAC July 5.