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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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Overcoming adversity with a healthy lifestyle

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................August 14, 2012

When I saw the title of a talk by DeWitt Osgood last week, “Why Physical Fitness Is Worth It,” I made sure to attend. He was talking to a group of seniors that meets weekly at Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center.

I have gotten to know him since he moved to Oak Crest a few years ago with his late wife Betty. DeWitt has overcome adversity and is a living example of good health. In his mid-90s, he is in better physical shape than me and many others even younger.

DeWitt lost a leg while in junior high school more than 80 years ago, but has never been slowed by that misfortune. But his talk last week was about the value of daily exercise, weight control and diet, something all of us need to take seriously. He is a vegetarian and explained his rationale for eating grains, fruits, vegetables and other foods that provide protein.

DeWitt Osgood lost a leg while in junior high school more than 80 years ago, but has never been slowed by that misfortune. He prefers this pair of wooden crutches which he has used for many years (Photos provided)

I was intrigued by his presentation, so I met with him later to learn more about his life. Born in 1917, DeWitt was one of five children, all of them still alive, now in their 80s and 90s. His father was a medical doctor early in life but changed careers to become a Seventh-day Adventist minister in Iowa.

DeWitt and his siblings walked more than a mile to school every day and he did so on crutches. The family of seven had to survive on his father’s church salary, and DeWitt worked his way through college, mainly by selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door, managing to get up and down porch steps with his artificial limb and crutches.

He eventually landed a job as manager of the Chamber of Commerce in Rochelle in the early 1950s, and in 1954 was recruited to take the same position in DeKalb. He got here just in time to organize the community’s centennial celebration and then 50 years later played a major role in the city’s sesquicentennial in 2006.

After a couple of years with the Chamber here, he decided to go into business for himself, establishing Osgood Realty. He said at first he almost went broke because when clients realized he had to use crutches to get around they didn’t want him to take them through a house with stairs or a basement.

At that point he turned to the business people he had known through the Chamber for help, and they gladly referred clients to him, first explaining his handicap was not a deterrent. His business grew after that.

DeWitt still drives and also takes an hour walk both morning and afternoon. He said it is best to get your heart rate elevated by spending the first 45 minutes walking briskly and then taking a little break.

I called one of his daughters, Cheryl, who lives out west in Oregon, and asked what else she could tell me about her dad. She said he has always been community-minded, serving as a district governor for Rotary International and holding elected positions on both the DeKalb Park District Board and DeKalb County Board of Supervisors.

Also the DeKalb Area Association of Realtors has named an exemplary service award in his honor. Not bad for a preacher’s kid who overcame adversity to become quite a success story.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115