Bentonia business owner Clarence "Poochie" Osborne rememberedBy JASON PATTERSON,
It’s hard to think about Bentonia without thinking about Osborne Service Station.
Of course if you’re from Bentonia, you probably called it “Poochie’s”
Clarence “Poochie” Osborne, wasn’t really sure how he got his nickname, but it was a name that was spoken with affection by many people over the years in this small Yazoo County town.
Osborne, who died on July 3 at the age of 78, operated a family business that was part of the community’s identity. The store and tire service center provided needed service to the town.
It was where you went if you needed a gallon of milk or a few gallons of gasoline. It was where you went if you needed a flat fixed or a new set of tires.
But it was more than just a business to many residents, and the reason for that was the man behind the counter.
“It was a store where if you needed some help, Poochie would help – no questions asked,” said Rusty Nash, who worked for Osborne for several years.
Denise Pryor recalls that when her mother, Mary Crocker, got older and could no longer drive she would call Osborne and tell him what she needed from the store. He would then deliver the goods to her home.
“Poochie was one of the most kind-hearted men in the town of Bentonia, although he really didn’t want many people to know that about him,” Pryor said. “He was good to so many people, and he was especially good to my mama.”
Osborne had a reputation for helping older residents when he could, but he also had a soft spot for the children.
“Me and about five of my friends and cousins used to ride up to the store all the time on our bicycles,” said Bobby Morgan. “His eyes would light up when he saw us walk through the door. He would go get some salami and cheese and crackers and cut some up for us to eat. We would sit there and listen to him tell us all about his childhood memories while we ate our snacks. Anytime our bikes would tear up he would show us how to fix them and wouldn’t charge a dime. That man had a heart of gold. He will be missed by a lot of people.”
Angel Jones, who grew up just down the road from the store, also remembers frequently visiting in her early years.
“I walked and rode my bike to Poochie’s many times,” Jones said. “He was a good man, and the little town of Bentonia won’t be the same without him.”
Stacey Coody remembers Osborne as a true Southern gentleman.
“He was always sweet, kind and gentle when we were growing up,” Coody said. “I remember one time when I was in the store and a bunch of guys were talking ugly. He shut them right down and told them he wasn’t going to have all of that in the store, especially when women were in there.”
Osborne’s story in the Bentonia business community began when he returned home as a college student to help his father, Clarence Roy Osborne, with the family business. He became partners with his father, and later became the owner and operator.
The family tradition continued when Osborne’s son Randy joined the business. They worked together until Randy’s death in 2006.
Nash said that in addition to his likable personality and kind nature, Osborne’s key to success was an incredibly strong work ethic.
“I was in my late 20s or early 30s, and we had to put new tires on the back of a big truck (eight tires), break them down and put on new tires,” Nash said. “I tried to outwork this man, but low and behold he showed me what it takes to be a man. He could swing a tire hammer in just the right spot and break a tire down.”
John Gallagher said Osborne was always ready to help if someone had car trouble.
“He had a service truck and would go out and get you off the road if you broke down with a flat or had engine trouble,” Gallagher said. “His heart was so big. Everyone loved him.”
Words like “kind-hearted” and “all-around good man” continue to come as Bentonia residents remember Clarence “Poochie” Osborne. Another thing they all seem to agree on is that the town just won’t be the same without him.
“We have lost a pillar of our community,” said Kim Tyer.