Friday, January 15, 2010

Ray Osterhout

Ray Osterhout was a member of the Board of Directors, a Lives of Commitment honoree and has served on our Development Committee. 

Osterhout, 78, recalled as 'salt-of-the-earth' patron of arts

By William Moyer • • January 17, 2010, 11:20 pm

Despite international acuity as a reinsurance executive and local acclaim as a multimillion-dollar philanthropist, Raymond L. Osterhout Jr., stayed faithful to his small-town roots.

"He and his wife, Wanda, were salt-of-the-earth people," said the couple's pastor, the Rev. Joyce K. Allen, of Windsor United Methodist Church. "They were great supporters of the church's dinner theater."

Mr. Osterhout, 78, a Windsor native, died last month after a brief illness in Lehigh Acres, Fla., where the couple had bought a snowbird home last fall to flee the cold winters in the Southern Tier.
In 2004, Raymond and Wanda Osterhout, who both graduated from Windsor High School, donated $2 million to Binghamton University. With the endowment, $1 million was used to establish a Distinguished Professorship in Entrepreneurship in the School of Management, and $1 million supported the Anderson Center for the Performing Arts.

"Their gifts have enabled academic, artistic and cultural initiatives that touch our students, faculty, staff and surrounding community and that will benefit generations to come," said Binghamton University President Lois B. DeFleur.

In recognition of the donation, the theater at the Anderson Center was named the Osterhout Concert Theater. At the May 2008 commencement, Mr. Osterhout received an honorary BU degree.

After graduating from Syracuse University on a full athletic scholarship in cross country and track, Mr. Osterhout worked in the insurance and reinsurance businesses, becoming president of National Reinsurance Corp., American Independent Reinsurance Corp., and Swiss Reinsurance Corp. in Zurich, Switzerland.

The couple kept close ties to their hometown community, according to family.
"Everyone knows about the large gifts, but they also gave money to the community foundation to continue the summer band concerts," said sister-in-law Marcia Steinbrecher, of Windsor. "Windsor was his home. He was a one-of-a-kind person."

Without the donation, the popular free concerts on the village green might have been discontinued several years ago, Steinbrecher said.

In July 2008, a photograph in the Press & Sun-Bulletin showed Mr. Osterhout igniting natural gas that was flowing through his home's faucets. The problem was discovered after the couple drilled a well to supply water at an addition to their house. The couple's property, on Fox Farm Road, sits atop the Marcellus Shale, a massive pocket of natural gas running beneath the Southern Tier and northern Pennsylvania.

A memorial service is scheduled for Valentine's Day, according to Allen.

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