MOUNT VERNON — Cecil Richard Orsborn, 90, passed away Sunday, May 16, 2010, at Knox Community Hospital. A graveside service will take place Wednesday, May 19, at 4 p.m. at Newark Memorial Gardens, where he will be laid to rest beside his wife, Mary, and his parents. A celebration of his life will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 30, at the Utica United Methodist Church, 626 North St., scheduled on Memorial Day weekend because Cecil was an honored veteran of World War II. All are warmly invited to attend either or both services.
Cecil was born Aug. 16, 1919, in a house on West Vine Street in Mount Vernon. The Orsborn family later moved to West Harrison Street, then to Morrow County for a year to manage a relative’s farm while that family was away. Cecil’s father, Benjamin Harrison Orsborn, and mother, Catharine Wintermute Orsborn, then purchased a small farm in Morgan Township, set on the hill above the Owl Creek Baptist Church, where their five children were baptized in the creek. The family weathered the depression using the food they grew and raised. Cecil said they never went hungry because of that farm.
At 19, Cecil joined the Navy in 1939. While he and other sailors were in boot camp, their ships left without them, so he was assigned to the USS Quincy, which a few years later was attacked and sank less than three months after Cecil was reassigned to another ship. His cousin, Raymond Proper, who transferred to the Quincy to be with Cecil, died when that ship sank. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Cecil learned that the ships he “missed” in 1939 were bombed at Pearl Harbor.
During his seven-year naval career, Cecil patrolled South American beaches, the waters off Iceland, went around the cape of South Africa, was back and forth over the equator, fought in the Pacific Theater, the North Atlantic Theater, the Battle of Guadalcanal and many more. He was a gunner’s mate and ended his career as a turret captain, a rank today’s Navy no longer uses. He suffered from severe hearing loss for the rest of his older life, due to his naval service.
In 1944, while the Cleveland’s worn-out guns were being repaired, Cecil was allowed 23 days leave. He hadn’t seen his family in more than two years and they had sold the farm. He knew they had moved to Utica, but didn’t know where. He got off a bus in Utica and walked up the street until he saw an acquaintance who told him where the Orsborns lived. When he knocked at the door, his sister Doris answered and was so surprised that she forgot to unlock the door before she ran screaming to get her mother. His brother Kenneth served in the Air Force and his brother Herman in the Merchant Marines and Navy, at the same time Cecil served.
Back on the Cleveland, in the Philippines, his military service came to a slow close. He was sent to shore and told to report to Washington, with no directions as to how. He fended for himself, catching rides on military planes and sleeping on beaches until he got a military transport to Guam, then Honolulu. He hitched a ride on a molasses tanker, which took 15 days to arrive in Los Angeles. He reported to Washington, then to the USS Plymouth but, while in Cuba, he became a civilian once again. To the end of his life, he remembered his military identification number. He enjoyed reliving some of his travel experiences with his grandsons, who visited the same places on recent study tours around the world.
Cecil married Mary Elizabeth Izenberg on April 11, 1948, and they raised their family in Utica. He retired from Columbia Gas Transmission Company after 26 years; his job was to “walk the lines” which he loved, often saying he had the best job in the world, being outdoors in the woods, fit and tanned, finding mushrooms, elderberries and arrowheads for his children.
Cecil is survived by his son, Randy L. Orsborn, daughter-in-law, Marcia Packard Orsborn, and daughter, Kimberly Orsborn, all of Mount Vernon; and three grandchildren who were his treasures, Kaitlyn, Nicholas and Matthew Orsborn, and Nick’s wife, Nikki Glibert Orsborn; as well as his only remaining sibling, Kathryn Ann Orsborn Kinnard of Newark; and his favorite cousin and “sister,” Marilou Wintermute Dana of Canton.
Law-Baker Funeral Home of Utica is assisting the family. In lieu of flowers, the family would be very pleased by contributions in Cecil’s memory to the Memorial All-Star Classic — he loved watching his grandsons play baseball and would be delighted to help other children — mailed to 804 E. Gambier St., Mount Vernon, OH 43050. Visit www.law-bakerfuneralhome.com to extend condolences to the family.