John was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on February 22, 1918, the son of Albert V. and Lena Lattimer Osmun. On July 11, 1942, he married Dorothy Morley Osmun, who preceded him in death in 1999.
He earned a BS from the University of Massachusetts in 1940, an MA in biology in 1942 from Amherst, and a PhD from the University of Illinois in 1956. During World War II, he served as a U.S. Army Entomologist and for three years was the Chief Entomologist in the First Army Command stationed in Governor’s Island, New York. He was then employed as a reserach entomologist for Merck & Company.
In 1948, he began his association with Purdue University as an Assistant Professor of Entomology. He was instrumental in developing and teaching the first university curriculum in Urban and Industrial Pest management in the U.S. From 1956 to 1972, he was Head of the Entomology Department. During this time, the department grew from a group of eight to a staff of over 100 people. From 1972 through 1974, on leave from Purdue, he worked in Washington, DC with the Cooperative States Research Service (USDA) and as director of the operations division for the EPA (OPP).
Returning to Purdue in 1975, he was a Professor of Entomology and served as the coordinator of the Purdue pesticide programs. He retired in 1987 as Professor Emeritus.
During his career, he served on the National Task Force on Pesticide Assessment, the EPA Task Group on Applicator Certification and Training, and the planning council of the National Pest Control Association. He was also the Project leader for the EPA Grant on Pesticide Technician Training and Chairman of the Commission on Pesticide Training and Education which developed and implemented training and certification programs throughout the United States for private and commercial persons applying pesticides.
He was a member of the Entomological Society of America, a founder and member of the American Registry of Professional Entomologist (President, 1978), founder and member of Phi Chi Omega (President, 1958), the National Pest Control Association, and a Fellow of the Indiana Academy of Science. He was elected Fellow, Entomological Society of America, named Professional of the Year by Pest Control Technology magazine in 1991, and received the University of Massachusetts Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award in 1995. He was an inaugural inductee into the Pest Control Hall of Fame in 1997. In 1988, the annual John V. Osmun Entomology Alumni Award was initiated.
He was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Xi. As a member of Rotary, he served on the Board of Directors and as President. He received the Sigma Delta Chi Best Teacher Award in 1969, and was an honorary member of Iron Key. He was a founder and member of Covenant Presbyterian Church.
John is survived by his wife, Dortha Parker Osmun; his daughter, Jodi Pickart (Bill), of Bringhurst; granddaughter, Karen Balsbaugh (Dan), of Bringhurst; and great-grandson, Charlie Balsbaugh. He was preceded in death by a brother, Kenneth Osmun; and granddaughter, Jill Suzanne Pickart.
Memorial service will be 3 p.m. Thursday with a visitation 2 hours prior to that all at Covenant Presbyterian Church in West Lafayette.
There will be a private burial at Grandview Cemetery in West Lafayette.
Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.soller-baker.com
[Published in the Journal & Courier on October 14, 2012]