NEW YORK — Kentucky native Burl Osborne, former chairman of the board of The Associated Press and long-time executive at Belo Corp., has died.
Osborne, who was 75, died Wednesday at a Dallas hospital after a sudden illness, his wife Betty said. Osborne, who lived in Dallas, was a member of the AP board for 14 years, the last five as chairman, from 2002 to 2007. He worked for 25 years at Belo, serving as editor and publisher of the Dallas Morning News, as president of Belo's publishing division and as a member of its board. He retired as publisher emeritus of the Morning News in 2007.
Before joining Belo, Osborne worked for the AP for two decades, starting as a correspondent in Bluefield, W.Va., and rising eventually to managing editor, a post he held from 1977 to 1980.
Osborne, a native of Jenkins, began his career while still a college student with a part-time reporting job at Kentucky's Ashland Independent, kindling a lifelong enthusiasm for the news business.
"He lived it and breathed it and would've paid The Associated Press, and the other outfits where he worked, to do the job. That's how much he loved it," Osborne's son, Jonathan, said Thursday.
After joining AP in 1960, he worked as a reporter in West Virginia and Washington state, filing stories that included a first-person account of his dependence on an artificial kidney machine. Osborne later underwent a kidney transplant from his mother.
Osborne headed AP bureaus in Louisville and Columbus, Ohio, and was assistant bureau chief in Washington, before moving to New York to take the job as managing editor. But, at heart, he remained a reporter, former colleague Terry Hunt recalled Thursday.
Soon after Osborne took over as bureau chief in Louisville, a mine explosion killed 38 men in Hyden. Osborne chartered a plane and flew to the scene and spent several days reporting in vivid detail. After filing his main story the first night, Hunt says he relayed a request from editors in New York for a feature. "Give me a minute to look at my notebook," he says Osborne answered, before dictating a poignant story of the miners' families.