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Martha Agnes Bailey Osborn

Musician, family historian and loving mother

Martha Bailey Osborn, mother of John A. Osborn, Jr. of Harvard, MA, passed away peacefully Tuesday, May 6, at Life Care Center of Littleton, Mass.

She was born on April 3, 1915 in Gooding, Idaho, the daughter of Harry Hampton Bailey and Pearl Ann March. The family moved to Boise when she was five. Musically gifted, she was chosen at the age of six to perform at the local veterans hospital, where she stood on a table and sang "Pretty Little Blue Bird." A year later she began her lifelong study of the piano with an alumnus of the New England Conservatory. Her progress was so rapid that seven years later her teacher recommended she continue her training with the head of the music department at the College of Idaho, who remained her teacher throughout her high school and first years of college. She appeared frequently in Boise, accompanying the high school's Senior Orchestra and once performing on the steps of the Idaho State Capitol during the city's week-long Music Festival.

After two years at the College of Idaho, Mrs. Osborn continued her studies at the University of Michigan where she earned a bachelor's degree in piano in 1939 and a second degree in music education in 1940. There she met her future husband of 60 years, John A. Osborn. They were married on August 18, 1940. She taught music in the Detroit schools, before moving to Washington D.C. in the summer of 1941. During the war she started a family and played at the veterans' hospital in D.C. and on the Armed Forces radio. She made her final solo appearance at age 89, performing a Chopin Mazurka and a piece by contemporary Spanish composer Isaac Aleniz at a charity event sponsored by The Willows in Westboro, MA.

Mrs. Osborn was a life-long member of Sigma Alpha Iota, the International Music Fraternity for women. Always active in musical affairs wherever she lived, she ran a highly successful piano studio for many years, and served on the board of the Ann Arundel County Arts Commission in Maryland. Always learning, she traveled frequently to Europe to attend summer masters piano classes. Her other interests included history, reading and the outdoors. As an 80-year old, was a docent at the Smithfield Plantation in Blacksburg, VA, where she and her husband had retired.. She was an excellent researcher, spending days in archives and historical museums up and down the east coast, often in pursuit of her family's history, whose forebears were among the founders of Newburyport, MA.

Mrs. Osborn leaves behind two sons, John A. Osborn, Jr. and Bruce-Erik Osborn, and a daughter, Janet Osborn Oakley, as well as six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.. A private family service in her memory will be held in June. In lieu of flowers, her family has requested that donations be made to Sigma Alpha Iota Philanthropies, Inc. which provides undergraduate and graduate scholarships for future performers.