Wayne H. Osness

Please click the link below, to view the service.

osness service.wmv

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)

18 Condolences

  1. Philip Hannon on October 6, 2023 at 10:25 am

    Truly a remarkable husband, father, grandfather and educator. Dr. Osness left his mark on Higher Education and Exercise Science world. He will be missed but not forgotten.

  2. Robert Pitcairn on October 6, 2023 at 9:03 pm

    Dr Osness provided support to myself when I taught the Karate classes for the university between 1978 and 1987. I would attribute my success developing others to having the facilities at Robinson gym and the support he provided was a period where our style proliferated. He was influential making our organization grow as he saw it brought many nationalities together and we truly had an all inclusive community. Thank you Dr Osness for your influence on our organization. May you rest in peace.
    Robert Pitcairn
    Okinawa Goju Ryu Tokai Juku.

  3. Michael B Martin on October 8, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Deena and all of your family… you have deepest sympathies and prayers. Just please remember all of the laughs and joys you all had together. ❤️. Remember the smiles and hugs too.

  4. Kris Berg on October 8, 2023 at 3:13 pm

    A mentor who changed my career path. Such a bright scholar and professional leader at KU and nationally. But most importantly, he was such a wonderful man who was always willing and eager to help students and colleagues. He was my role model in my 53 year teaching/research career. He made the world a better place. Thank you, Wayne. You altered my life.

  5. Reece E. Wiley on October 8, 2023 at 6:42 pm

    I only knew Wayne during the past year. He was a proud transplanted Jayhawk with a kind word for everyone he met. A real gentleman. Heaven has a new activities director.

  6. Lee and Lori Queen on October 12, 2023 at 7:54 am

    Deena, sorry for you and your family’s loss. You are in our prayers.

  7. Brower Burchill on October 12, 2023 at 11:06 am

    Wayne was a colleague and friend of mine for all of my 27 years on the KU faculty, and we remained speaking friends until now. While I knew of his prominence in all areas of health and fitness, his obituary opened my eyes to so much more. I will treasure the fact that he had time to be my friend, in the midst of such a full family and professional life. I will, however, continue to be upset with him for trouncing me at Racquetball whenever we played. I will miss you, my friend. Rest in Peace as you look back on your wonderful and generous life.

  8. Terry Rees on October 14, 2023 at 4:53 pm

    Of all Wayne’s many accomplishments, what stood out the most to me, not with just Wayne but also with Donna, was kindness. It radiated so naturally from both. That truly made a successful life.

  9. Vicki Julian on October 14, 2023 at 10:12 pm

    Patrick, Karen, Cinda, Deena and Lynne (and families),

    Amazing what your dad accomplished! Both of your parents will truly be missed by those of us fortunate to have known them. They were always kind, helpful and willing to do whatever was needed. In losing Wayne, TLC and our community have lost another treasure. My deepest sympathy to you all.

  10. Judy Heller on October 16, 2023 at 9:01 am

    Wayne’s life was full of remarkable accomplishments, but nothing was more important to him than his family. He was also a caring and loyal friend. I am glad that our paths crossed.

  11. Bret Eckert on October 18, 2023 at 10:23 am

    Dr. Osness was a wonderful teacher. Enjoyed his classes especially when he jumped off subject and started talking about his duties with Olympic committee. Always enjoyed sharing our eating spot, Buffalo Bob’s, while shopping on Christmas Eve. Prayers to the family.

  12. Mary and Don Capes on October 20, 2023 at 9:21 am

    We send our deepest sympathy. Wayne and your mom were both such dear friends. They are truly missed.

  13. Doug Knop on October 23, 2023 at 8:29 am

    We called him “Doc” when I competed on the KU track team in the late 1960s. I have many fond memories of his encouragement and dedication. It was probably a challenge to coach three stubborn 300-lb weight men. May he rest in peace.

  14. Elayne Osness Ollmann and sisters Betty, Janet and Phyllis on November 9, 2023 at 10:09 am

    Wayne’s cousins from Merrill, WI wish to extend their love and sympathy to Wayne and Donna’s family. His ready smile and cheery laugh brightened the lives of many. We always looked forward to our visits. We were proud of his many accomplishments, but prouder still that he remained that “down-to-earth” cousin we grew up with. May God comfort you as you grieve his passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  15. Elayne Ollmann on November 10, 2023 at 8:52 am

    Wayne’s cousins from Merrill, WI wish to extend their love and sympathy to Wayne and Donna’s family. His ready smile and cheery laugh brightened the lives of many. We always looked forward to our visits. We were proud of his many accomplishments, but prouder still that he remained that ” down-to-earth” cousin we grew up with. May God comfort you as you grieve his passing. We intend to view his funeral via Internet. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. Betty, Elayne, Phyllis and Janet

  16. Janet Beyer-Thums on November 10, 2023 at 9:24 am

    My deepest sympathy to all of Wayne’s family. I am your cousin from Merrill, Wisconsin. (Oscar and Lucinda’s daughter) I grew up knowing the love and admiration my parents and siblings enjoyed with Wayne and Donna. My brothers shared many stories of playing football with Wayne and the rivalry between Antigo and Merrill. (The rivalry was called the battle of Hwy. 64) We were always excited to see Uncle Leonard and Aunt Marion their children and families. There was and still is much love and admiration and for all of our Osness cousins. We will be watching the live stream. Once again, our love and prayers. My sisters, Betty, Elayne, Phyllis join in this message. My seven older brothers have passed and are sharing football stories with their much loved cousin from their eternal home.

  17. Judy and Gene Bauer on November 10, 2023 at 7:37 pm

    To all of the Osness family~Please accept our profound condolences on the loss of Wayne. Wayne and Donna were generous, kind neighbors to us on University Drive, always ready to lend a hand or stop for a visit. It’s hard to think of one without the other. Wayne’s smile radiated warmth and intelligence. I remember the family football games he lead in the front yard and treks to Wisconsin where family gathered in summers. May your memories bring you comfort and peace in the coming days.

  18. Michael Mitchell on January 9, 2024 at 11:53 am

    Patrick, so sorry for your loss. I never met your father, but he raised a good one in you.

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