Wayne H. Osness
Wayne Hans Osness passed away on October 4, 2023 with his family around him. He was born in Merrill, Wisconsin on July 11, 1933 to Marion Fischer Osness and Leonard Osness. He graduated from Antigo High School in 1951. He was a member of the football team, captain of the basketball team and track team. He was the Outstanding Senior Athlete and the Outstanding Senior Boy of his graduating class. It was there that he met his High School sweetheart, Donna Lea Murray, who became his wife. (They were married for 69 years before Donna passed away in December of 2020.) After High School, Wayne went on to the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire where he served as co-captain of the football team and was named All-Conference. Following graduation with a degree in chemistry, he was inducted into the University’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He went on to coach football and track in Marion, WI and Madison, WI. During his years in Madison, he taught High School chemistry and completed master’s degrees in chemistry and physical education. While finishing his PhD in Exercise Physiology, he coached the freshman football team at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. In 1966, Wayne and Donna moved with their five children to Lawrence, KS where he joined the faculty at the University of Kansas in the Physical Education, Health, and Recreation Department. In addition to teaching and directing the graduate program, he assumed the position of KU track coach for the weight events. Wayne was inducted into the KU Relays Hall of Fame in 1980. Wayne spent 40 years at KU teaching Exercise Physiology, directing the Human Performance Lab, mentoring hundreds of students and serving on numerous University Boards – such as the Athletic Board. He also served as Senior Scientist, the Center On Aging at the KU Medical Center and was a guest lecturer at numerous Universities across the country and overseas. During his professional life, Wayne was honored by his professional colleagues and associations. He received awards from the State of Kansas, the Central District, and the National Association for Physical Education. Wayne is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and the Research Consortium of AAHPERD. In 1978, he was given the Luther Halsey Gulick Medal – the highest award given to teaching and research professionals in his field.
Wayne’s research centered primarily on cardiac rehabilitation plus metabolic and pulmonary function. He was also actively involved in the research of the biological aging process and the assessment of functional capacity among older populations. During his professional career, he published over one hundred books and articles and made hundreds of presentations both nationally and internationally. He was widely respected for his extensive knowledge and experience in the field of biological aging and was in demand as a consultant and speaker at many professional meetings and events.
During his years at KU, Wayne served on the United States Olympic Committee. For thirteen years, he worked with the Site Selection Committee and the Executive Board of Governors. Later he assumed the direction for the Olympic Education Committee and traveled to many countries to assist them in developing their teams and programs. Wayne also spent time as a visiting professor at West Point Military Academy helping with program development. He served his professional organization – AAHPERD – at the state level and went on the serve as the national president.
Wayne was also active at the state and local level in promoting fitness and a healthy lifestyle by serving as the first president of the Governor’s Council on Fitness. He organized the first Kansas State Games. Locally, he was instrumental in starting and participating in an exercise group that met in Allen Field House at 6:00am. He introduced many Lawrence residents to walking and running programs. His expertise was sought after frequently to assist other cities in the development of fitness programs and fitness centers. Serving the community of Lawrence was important to Wayne and he served on numerous committees and Boards. He was active in the Kiwanis Club and served as local president and Lt. Governor for the District.
The Osness family has attended Trinity Lutheran Church since arriving in Kansas in 1966. Wayne served on the church council and as president for three different terms.
Family was most important to Wayne. He and Donna had five children: Patrick Osness (Barbara), Karen Thompson (Stan), Cinda Peck (Rod), Deena Osness, and Lynne Buckley (Owen). He also had nine grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. Wayne was happiest when he had his children around him and a toddler on his knee. He will be missed by all who knew him – but his legacy and good council will live on through his children and their families as well as the many students, friends, and professionals whose lives he touched.
Services will be held at 10:00 am on Friday, November 10, 2023 at Trinity Lutheran Church, Lawrence, KS. A Memorial Reception will follow at the church. The service will be live streamed through the Warren McElwain website, www.warrenmcelwain.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations supporting the Wayne Osness Doctoral Award (03437) be made to KU Endowment, P.O. Box 928, Lawrence, KS 66044 or online at www.kuendowment.org/givenow. Donations to this student scholarship award may also be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044 (1-785-843-1120)