Actually, this is a about a family that ended up in Kailua. We’ll get to the ‘flagpole’ portion of their adventures at the end of the summary. This is about Lloyd and Joanie Osborne; they married in 1938.
Lloyd was born in Newtonville, Massachusetts, on March 14, 1909; he graduated from Phillips-Exeter Academy and Yale University, where he was captain of the swimming team.
He led an all-star US swimming team on a Pacific and Japan tour in 1931, but passed up 1932 Olympic tryouts in order to enlist as a Naval Aviator, after earning his mechanical engineering degree.
Joan (Joanie) Dowsett Osborne, born July 26, 1916, was the daughter of Herbert and Laura Dowsett; she was a descendant of Gerrit Parmele Judd, a missionary physician in the Third Company of American Protestant missionaries to the Islands. Judd later resigned from the mission and became an advisor and translator to King Kamehameha III.
Joanie was a member of the Punahou School class of 1933, attended the Schools at Dobbs Ferry in Westchester, NY and Tufts University of Occupational Therapy.
Although Joanie was a swimmer from an early age, marriage and childrearing interrupted her swimming until her mid-fifties. It was as senior swimmers that inspired Joanie to join competitive swimming with Lloyd in the Masters Swim events.
In 1984, at the age of 75, Lloyd set two national records, the 200-meter butterfly in 4:51:77 and the 200-meter individual medley in 4:01:34. He has numerous other accolades in swimming (from the 1970s to 1990s.) His last, in 1992, was 1st Place in 400 freestyle (8:08:40;) he was 82.
He swam competitively, he told a reporter in 1985, because he wanted to stay healthy enough to make one particular financial transaction: “I’d like to write a check dated Jan. 2, 2000.” (He made it.)
During 14 years of competition, Joanie was listed in the US Masters National Top Ten Times in 174 events: ranking first in 53 events; second in 29; third in 20; and fourth in 22. She has held 28 pool event USMS National Records, one Long Distance National Record and four Master’s Age Group World Records.
Back to Lloyd’s aviation experience … After earning his wings in 1933 at Pensacola, Florida, Lloyd piloted landings and take offs from the world’s first aircraft carrier, the US Langley, a converted Navy oiler.
Following a stint in the engineering design department at Martin Aircraft, he joined Pan American Airways as a pilot, flying throughout the Caribbean and South America; one of his passengers was President Franklin D Roosevelt.
His WWII duty included command of an air control unit during amphibious operations at Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima, for which he earned two combat Bronze Star medals. He later served on the staff of Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet.
After WWII, a unique type of air service called ‘flight seeing’ came into being. On April 2, 1946, Osborne started Hawaiian Air Transport Service Ltd, “a deluxe charter and tour service.”
It provided non-scheduled service to all Territorial airports and provided special tourist sight-seeing flights to the Neighbor Islands, and charter services as required. (hawaii-gov)
After operating for about 4-years, Hans Mueller took over the certificate and expanded that operation into Hawaiian Air Tour Service (HATS,) a full-fledged flight-seeing operation. (Allen)
The accomplishment that Joanie is most proud of is not her swimming, but the role she played in establishing Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park in Kona. Joanie lived in Kailua-Kona in the 1950s. During this period, she served on the Governor’s commission to save historical sites. Through her efforts, and others, the park was eventually created.
On August 13, 1959, over a thousand people gathered near the Sears’ end for the grand opening of Ala Moana Center. Lloyd Osborne was there, he was the center’s first general manager.
OK, the flagpole …
The Osbornes had a house on Kailua Beach. Most folks who surf or walk the beach will recall a flagpole standing proud and tall near the edge of the beach. The surf spot “Flagpoles” is right off shore.
That was the home of Lloyd and Joanie Osborne and their family. On July 4, 1969, to honor both his nation and his state, and to salute other states and countries he had visited, Lloyd put up the 30-foot flagpole himself.
Lloyd died April 19, 2001 at the age of 92; Joanie, his wife of 63 years, died July 20, 2014, missing her 98th birthday by six days. (Lots of information here is from Advertiser, Star-Advertiser and Punahou.)
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Roberta Wong says
Mahalo for great research on the Osborne ohana, enjoyed reading very much
Rick Helin says
Great story about The Osbornes. One thing mentioned in the story I believe is incorrect: “After earning his wings in 1933 at Pensacola, Florida, Lloyd was in the first squadron to land and take off from the world’s first aircraft carrier, the US Langley, a converted Navy oiler.”
The Langley was converted to a carrier in 1920 and planes routinely flew on and off this ship. It was instrumental in the search (failed) for Cmdr. John Rodgers and his crew in the PN9-1 in September of 1925. In fact the picture you used for it was taken in 1927. Could you have meant to write: “he received his wings in 1923 instead of 1933”? The Langely had been testing large scale landing and takeoffs for the first time. This was in the Caribbean during January of 1923.
Peter T Young says
Thanks. I used information from his obituary that noted the 1933 date and the ‘first’ – I finessed some language, taking off the reference to being the ‘first.’ Thanks, Peter.
Bill Jardine says
The Osbornes were some of the best people I ever knew. God bless them all.
Peter Osborne says
Thank you for a great article on two amazing people. Wonderful role models and shoes that are too large to fill.
Their home ‘flagpoles’ was recently sold as part of the estate settlement. The buyers are a wonderful family and invited my wife and I to the blessing. It turns out that the new owner graduated from Yale University and was, like my Dad, on the swimming team.
His plan is to preserve the flagpole and create a small inscription in Lloyd Osborne’s honor.
The Lloyd Osborne’s aviation tradition continued with his son, Gerrit “Oz” Osborne, who flew for many years with 199th Fighter Squadron, Hawaii Air National Guard.