The 92-year-old Mal Osborn of Winston-Salem, North Carolina briefly went viral after his daughter turned to social media for help searching for his University of Maine varsity jacket.
The search began in October and concluded on December 3, when the prized jacket found its way home.
Osborn was a distance runner and competed in cross-country events between 1949 to 1952 at the University of Maine. The letter jacket, which has “Mal” emblazoned at the right breast pocket area to signify his ownership, had become more than just a symbol of the good old days — as he told the Bangor News Daily, it had become a part of him.
Beverly Amick, Osborn’s daughter, believes that Osborn placed it on the roof of his car and then forgot it before driving up the street to visit a local restaurant. As a result, it fell off the car and into someone’s yard.
A neighborhood-wide search ensued as family members mapped out Osborn’s usual routes and approached neighbors for any clues of the jacket’s whereabouts. Amick also posted about the search on Facebook.
Finding the Jacket
On December 1, Amick revealed that the search was officially over. The jacket had been sighted as early as November 1 by a woman who lived near her father. The woman who discovered it said that she found the coat in her yard covered with leaves and that a mutual acquaintance who had seen Amick’s post had informed her of the search.
“I appreciate all the kindness and compassion that was shown during the last 24 hours. This experience is certainly a positive event to finish out 2020. Again, thank you so much,” Amick said.
She revealed that the woman had sent her an email and that the jacket was dry cleaned before it was returned to Osborn on December 3.
In gratitude, Osborn spent several hours on Monday ringing a Salvation Army bell at a local store.
“I’m awful glad I got it,” he said. “I hope you give credit to all the kind people, especially my daughter, who set this whole thing in motion. I know there’s good people in the world, but this made me more aware of it.”
Osborn the Track Star
Before his record as a college track athlete, Osborn was the outdoor state champion competing for Mattanawcook Academy, a high school in Lincoln.
Osborn, alongside teammates Charles Goote, James Holden, and John Wathen, holds the record for the third-fastest mile relay time in school history at 3 minutes, 31.2 seconds. This was achieved on February 3, 1951.
Despite his age, Osborn still has a cheeky glint in his eye. He attributes his college degree to his running talents. While he has retired from running, he continues to stay active and enjoys swimming.