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May 16, 2004

Remembering Olive Osmond

From: Provo Daily Herald, UT - May 16, 2004


All nine of Olive Osmond's children sat on the stage at her funeral Saturday morning, but they were mostly hidden behind the 45 flower bouquets, sent from local and famous friends of the family, that filled the front of an LDS chapel in Provo.

Osmond, the mother of the '70s singing group The Osmonds and founder of the Children's Miracle Network, was remembered in the service as an "angel mother" and lifelong missionary of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"Whether it was with fans or friends ... she did everything she could to teach people that they were worth it," Jay Osmond said in his eulogy to his mother. "They were worth it to her. They were worth it to the Lord."

Olive passed away May 9 from continued complications from a stoke she suffered more than two years ago. She left behind her husband, George, her children, Virl, Tom, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie and Jimmy, along with 55 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

The family held a private viewing Saturday night, which spokesman Ron Clark confirmed involved extra security but went perfectly as planned.

Saturday's services were open to the public, though Clark asked people to refrain from coming to satisfy curiosity and save seats for family, friends and mourners. About 600 people attended the funeral.

The Osmond children each spoke for two to three minutes, and then together they embraced in front of the pulpit to sing a medley of church hymns including "Oh, My Father" and "Love at Home." Virl and Tom Osmond, who are both hearing impaired, joined with the family by singing along with the music beside their siblings.

Several of Olive Osmond's grandchildren and great-grandchildren stood from their seats in the middle of the chapel and sang together their own melody with the songs "Families Can Be Together Forever" and "I am a Child of God." The large choir was filled with voices of all ages, but one powerful little girl's voice rose above the crowd.

After the songs and eulogies, President Thomas S. Monson, a member of the first presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stood for his remarks and asked the audience to stand in a short, silent tribute to the talented Osmond family.

"Whenever I hear them sing, I am always the first to my feet for the standing ovation," he said. "That would be inappropriate here, but let us all stand quietly for them today."

Monson read a letter from the first presidency offering gratitude to Olive Osmond for her years of service in and for the church.

"We rejoice in her long life of devoted service," he said. "Many lives have been blessed by her quiet acts of love."

Many of those quiet acts of love were offered within her own home and were described at the service by her children's tear-filled words.

Tom Osmond said his mother was dedicated to teaching his brother Virl and him to speak and to help them live normal, happy and faithful lives in a time when there were very few public services for deaf children.

"She practiced with me every day and taught me to talk," he said. "She was my self-esteem when I was little. She kept me going."

Olive Osmond went on to create the Children's Miracle Network, which currently serves 17 million children with diseases and serious handicaps.

Marie Osmond Blosil said her mother showed a love of service by insisting, during her early years in the entertainment world, that Marie learn to bake. Her mother wanted her to learn that service starts at home in the family, Marie said.

"I'd come home at midnight after 12 hours of work and mom would open the front door and say, 'OK, Marie, let's make bread.' " Marie Osmond said. "I thought she was crazy. But in the end, she taught me to bake and sew and can fruit and cook, and I taught her how to wear makeup."

Virl said his mother spent many hours teaching him to play her instrument -- the saxophone. The children were each taught to play a different instrument with the hope that they would teach their talent to the rest of the family. Olive Osmond had run out of traditional instruments when her eighth child and only girl came around, and so she told Marie she was going to play the marimba -- a wooden xylophone instrument that Marie said is about the size of a giant horse.

"It was the '70s. I wanted to play the guitar," Marie said. "But Mom said, 'We already have a guitar player; you will play the marimba.' "

Though the children laughed about certain memories of their mother, they more often reverently recalled her spiritual nature and their hope that they will live with her again in heaven.

Virl Osmond said his mother taught him to have love for all of God's creations and to believe in God himself.

"At a very young age she kneeled down with me and taught me how to pray," he said. "She taught me to love my Heavenly Father and to love my savior Jesus Christ."

Alan Osmond said his mom did not just give him life, but she taught him how to live it. He addressed his eulogy to her.

"You taught me the gospel, and you showed me your testimony in your actions," he said. "You were my missionary."

Many people commented on her spiritual strength during the two years since her stroke. Clark said Osmond recovered so many times after the stroke that the nursing staff nicknamed her "Lazarus."

"Olive continued to breathe each and every possible breath that was given to her by Heavenly Father," he said.

© 2004 Provo Daily Herald