Community Mourns Beloved Soda Fountain Operator

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The man who made a local shop featuring soda fountain drinks a Berkeley destination died early Thursday morning of kidney failure. He was 89.

Charles "Ozzie" Osborne was best known for making Ozzie's Soda Fountain a favorite hangout since he took over operations in 1950.

The soda fountain, founded in 1921, was located inside Elmwood Pharmacy at the corner of College Avenue and Russell Street.

Barbara Lubin, a frequent customer, said her four children ate at the soda fountain often because of Osborne.

"Ozzie was one of the most wonderful people who ever lived," Lubin said. "He was the family of everybody who went to that pharmacy and he was one of the most remarkable people I've ever known."

Osborne joined community members in fighting to make Berkeley one of the only cities in the country to have rent control in the 1980s, Lubin said.

Osborne attended UC Berkeley for about a year and a half before entering the army.

Between 1942 and 1943, Osborne served as a World War II fighter escort pilot, according to Rory Osborne, one of his sons.

Lubin said the fountain was not the same after Osborne retired in 1989.

"Without Ozzie, it just didn't have the heart that it had in those days," Lubin said.

Derk Richardson, his longtime friend, said Osborne will be as much missed for his personality as he will for his shop.

"It was just the force of his personality," Richardson said. "He made everybody feel comfortable. You could come in with left-wing views, conservative views, you could come in happy or unhappy, but everybody felt like (the soda fountain) was a second home."

Osborne is survived by his wife and two sons. A memorial will be held in his honor on Feb. 14.

-Jessica Kwong


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