Patrick Stephen Osso, known as “Pat” or Dad, Granddad and Great-Granddad passed away peacefully in his sleep early Friday morning, May 17, 2019 at age 94 years, 9 months and 11 days. He was a resident of the Powhatan Nursing Home in Falls Church and was well cared for by the nurses and staff at the facility. He had also received loving care from personal aides from Kissinger's “Homewatch CareGivers of Fairfax” for the past five years. As one of the Powhatan nurses said, “He will truly be missed by us and some of the other residents whom he formed a personal connection with.” Another nurse said, “Your dad touched many of us by his strength and spirit. He has left his mark.” This was truly remarkable since he had suffered a massive stroke in Feb, 2014 which had left him significantly speech impaired and finally totally immobile. His increasing inability to swallow for the past six months left him very frail at the end. However, he was well known for his resounding “Hallelujahs!” whenever something made him especially happy like seeing his two daughters and their families, grandchildren and particularly his lively great-grandchildren. Their visit always brought a twinkle to his eyes and a smile to his face.
Pat was the first surviving male son of Italian immigrants, Stephano and Antonetta Osso. He was born at home in the mining town of Lilly, Pennsylvania on August 6, 1924. Although he was not the youngest child in the family of four sisters and one brother, he alone survived as he neared his 95th birthday. Growing up, Pat remembers when electricity first came to his town and the first electric lights on the home Christmas tree. In more trying times, he remembered putting perishable food in a bucket down the well since his family never had even an icebox, and shoveling coal into the furnace during the long, cold winter months.
Pat played cornet in the Lilly High School band and in the summer he took the bus to visit his aunt and uncle in Annapolis, Maryland. His uncle was the Bandmaster at the Naval Academy there, and thus began Pat’s love of the Navy. Therefore, in 1942, at the age of 17, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and as soon as he had graduated from high school, Pat joined the Navy. He did his basic training in Norfolk, Virginia and served on the USS Texas in the Mediterrean. Suffering an injury in charge of gunnery and during fire fighting, he was sent to Portland, Maine for R & R. It was during this time that he met his wife-to-be, Dorothy Yvette Dulac, a French-Canadian young lady who was working in her father’s hardware store in Lewiston, Maine. They were married in Twenty-Nine Palms, California, near where Pat was stationed in San Diego, before he would be sent to Hawaii to begin training for the Naval invasion of Japan. Dropping the 1st atomic bomb on his birthday in 1945 Dad always said was “the best birthday present I ever had” as it expedited the end of World War II and hastened his return to his beloved wife.
With a European African Middle Eastern Ribbon, an Asiatic-Pacific Ribbon, a World War II Victory Medal among others, and $122.65 in his pocket, Pat took a train across the country to reunite with his wife, Dorothy, back in her home in Maine. Together, they took another train to Lilly, Pennsylvania where they had to jump off in the snow as the train labored up a hill since there was no station in his little hometown. From there, they proceeded to Washington, DC to begin life as a married couple. Pat went to work right away pursuing his dream of becoming a professional photographer by getting a job first at Hecht’s, then Lansburgh's Department Stores in DC in the advertising department. Pat was taking pictures of lingerie models while Dorothy was working at the French Embassy. In 1946 they moved to Kensington, MD and their 1st child, Jeanne Frances, was born. Almost 3 years later, their second daughter, Annette Carolyn, arrived.
Now it was time for Pat to use his GI Bill to go college, so the family moved to Richmond, Va. Pat worked to support his family while going to college and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Richmond Professional Institute, (RPI) now Virginia Commonwealth University, in 1955. He excelled in oil painting, sculpture & photography earning many awards including ones from the Valentine Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Upon graduation, Pat became a professor at RPI starting the Photography Department. He was the Department Chairman from 1955 to 1963 while doing extensive free lance work. Pat established his own photographic studio in Richmond, “OSSO PHOTOGRAPHY” where he developed and printed all his own work. Some of his assignments included filming President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Jamestown Historical Exposition, Historical Williamsburg, President Truman at the University of Virginia, Project Mercury at NASA, Langley Field, and extensive advertising photography for A. H. Robins Pharmaceuticals. This included covering the Olympics in Mexico for Chapstick in 1968. Pat also took a panorama of photographs for the Virginia and North Carolina Chambers of Commerce; the VA ones were once on display at Dulles Airport. Pat later also did numerous advertising photographs for Norfolk & Western Railways.
After his daughters had graduated from high school, Pat and Dorothy realized another of Pat’s dreams which was to return to Southern California. Once relocated there, Pat taught at the prestigious Brooks Institute School of Photography from 1970-1971 and Santa Monica College from 1975-1976. After his divorce, Pat joined a former RPI colleague at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design from 1976-1980, but returned to Southern Cal to retire. Pat won awards in photography throughout his career across the country. He has published works in 71 medical journals and in such prestigious magazines as House Beautiful, House and Garden, Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, National Geographic, Life, Look and Southern Living.
Upon retirement, Pat moved from Santa Monica to Oceanside, CA where he had a yard full of plentiful mandarin, tangerine, persimmon and other fruit trees, and he loved to garden. He stayed in close touch with his ex until her unexpected death in 2005, and managed the care of his beloved older sister, Anna, until she passed away at age 96. At that time, in 2013, his daughters finally moved him from his long-time home in California back to Virginia to help with his care and to be closer to the rest of family.
Pat is survived by his two daughters, Jeanne Osso with partner Stephen Smith of Arlington, VA, and Annette Osso and her husband David Michaelson, living in Barboursville, VA. He has five grandchildren, including Marianne and husband, Tony Powell of Lynchburg, VA; Owen Lawson and wife Teresa of Clifton, VA; Joseph Woolson in Welches, OR; Daniel Michaelson and partner Quinn Philiposian in Charlottesville, VA; and Sarah Michaelson and fiancé John Tillar of Arlington, VA; He also has nine great-grandchildren and two nephews, William and Robert Masters. Pat is also remembered fondly by his wife’s family as he left a legacy of love in the countless photographs he took of weddings, babies, anniversaries, and vacations which span his lifetime. His gift to all of us is his enduring love which we will forever treasure in the paintings, sculpture, and the innumerable cherished photographs which he has left us. REST IN PEACE dearly loved Father!!
More information is forthcoming concerning a military funeral and scattering his ashes in the waters of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, upon his request. This is where Dad spent many memorable years boating, fishing, & vacationing with his beloved wife, Dorothy, and his daughters, Jeanne & Annette. Nags Head, NC is also where, after Pat recently returned to the East Coast, he and Jeanne spent precious time in his beautiful retirement home on land he had purchased almost 40 years ago. WELCOME HOME!!!