Saturday 23 August 2014

At 30 - Jean Osborne

The Toronto Sun Family has lost another member of The 62.

Jean Osborne, a much-loved Day One switchboard operator, died in her 80s on Aug. 19, 2014, from the ravages of Alzheimer's. 

Jean, remembered for her smile and kindly disposition, was one of the 62 former Toronto Telegram staffers to take a gamble on the upstart Sun in the old Eclipse Building at King St. W. and John Street after the Tely folded.

From the first day of the Toronto Sun - Nov. 1, 1971 - to her retirement, Jean was part of a switchboard team that was integral to the tabloid's success.

On Day One, she was joined on the switchboard in the factory environment by Margaret Kmiciewicz, aka Mrs. K., who died at 87 on Dec. 13, 2008. Memories of Margaret

Over the years, Margaret and Jean welcomed and nurtured new switchboard operators before and after the Sun's move to 333 King Street East, including Marjorie, Mary, Dawne etc.

While some businesses hide their switchboards in back rooms and basements, Jean, Margaret et al were positioned in the heart of the newsroom at 333. They were, after all, a conduit to world leaders, politicians, personalities, thousands of readers etc.  

During quiet times, they were fascinating conversationalists and story tellers. 

Reaction to Jean's death at Hillsdale Terraces in Oshawa on the Toronto Sun Family Facebook page was swift:

Joan Sutton Straus: "I am so sorry to hear of her battle with Alzheimer's, and send my love and sympathy to her family who will mourn her absence but not, in this case. her death. Jean was a graceful presence at the Sun, totally professional in her work, always ready with a smile. I will never forget her." 

Cal Millar: "Very sad news about Jean. The switchboard was always the hub of the paper. She will be missed by many."

Dawne Blackwood: "Over the years I have thought of Jean many times. She was a wonderful lady and even better was a wonderful boss."

Siobhan Moore: "Jean was a sweetheart, a very gentle lady who handled the boisterous newsroom with style."

Sheila Chidley-Bilicki: Always a pleasant and such a nice person. Sad to hear of her battle with Alzheimer's and of her passing. RIP, Jean."

Moira MacDonald"I am so sorry to hear about this. I will always remember her smile. Another one of those switchboard ladies who made me a top Brownie cookie seller for years!"

Linda Barnard: "Sorry to hear this. What a lovely person Jean was. She and Mrs. K were the voices of the Sun back in the day. May the good Lord not put her on hold and put all her calls through. RIP, Jean."

Linda A. Fox: "That Sun switchboard was our first line of defence... and Jean did a great job!"

Rashida Jeeva: "Jean was a lovely person. She made a quilt - by hand - when my first daughter was born. I still have it."

Lorrie Goldstein: "Simply one of the nicest people in the Sun newsroom. So sorry to hear of her passing. Sincere condolences to her family and friends."

Memories of Jean Osborne can be emailed to

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