The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Bud Ossey Oral History Interviews

Two life history interviews conducted by Mike Dicianna.

October - November 2014


Bernard Abraham Osipovich, known later as Bud Ossey, was born in 1919 in Odessa, Russia. He immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island in 1920 with his mother, grandfather, uncle and three siblings, his father remaining in Russia during the early days of the Russian Revolution. The family settled in Portland, Oregon where his grandfather opened a grocery store on First and Caruthers in South Portland. The family lived above the store in a small apartment.

Abraham Osipovich, Bud's father, escaped from Russia in 1923 by walking overland at night through the mountains of Poland. Once stateside, he joined his family in Oregon and promptly enrolled in the Engineering program at Oregon Agricultural College. Bud's first trip to the Corvallis campus came about in 1924 to watch a football game and visit his father; he saw his first Civil War football game in 1929. Later, as a teenager, Bud sold programs at Bell Field. He also attended the famous "Iron Men" game against USC in 1933, watching the action from the USC bench.

Ossey entered Oregon State College in 1937 as a Civil Engineering major. After taking the 1939-40 school year off to work for the Bonneville Power Administration, he returned to school and graduated with a BS in December 1943. As a male student, Bud was also required to attend ROTC classes for his first two years. He continued his military training beyond the basic requirement and received his Lieutenant commission in 1943. Bud also married his high school sweetheart, Maxine, in 1942 and lived off campus until graduation.

During World War II, Ossey was placed in command of an all-black Combat Engineer unit, training replacements at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He was later transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington, and given responsibility for the Engineering Compounds. Ossey's unit was slated to go to the Pacific Theater, but the end of the war in August 1945 cancelled his deployment and he ended his military career without facing combat. He remained in the US Army Reserve for another twenty-six years.

Following the war, Ossey began a career as an engineer for the Bonneville Power Administration. Specializing in hydroelectric design of power houses in the Northwest, Ossey was involved with the construction of The Dalles Dam, which eventually covered Celilo Falls on the Columbia River. Ossey's career as an employee of the federal government spanned thirty-six years.

During Bud's working years, the Osseys settled in East Portland. Bud and Maxine had three sons, two Beavers and a lone Duck. Bud has maintained a close connection to his alma mater, working in particular with various iterations of the Beaver Athletic Student Fund for some sixty years. A project particularly dear to him, The Bud and Maxine Ossey Golf Center, was dedicated in 2015 in Gill Coliseum.

Ossey has been recognized by OSU as both a member of the Oregon State University Engineering Hall of Fame and with the Martin Chaves Lifetime Achievement Award for Athletics. His service to OSU includes a tenure on the board and a lifetime membership of the university's Alumni Association; Past President of the OSU Dad's Club; charter member of the OSU Beaver Club Board; Past President of the Beaver Athletic Scholarship Fund; former chair of the OSU Council of Regents Board; and trustee of the OSU Foundation.

Maxine Ossey passed away on January 17, 2013, not long after her and Bud's 70th wedding anniversary. Bud continues to live in their home in Tualatin, Oregon.