David Osborne CEng FInstPkg (Obit)

Fellows' Lounge
15 Nov 2010

A Life Fellow of The Packaging Society, David Osborne passed away on 22 September, aged 82 years.

He was an active contributor to packaging education and training from the 1970s to 2000, delivering lectures on his specialist subject, glass. He was very much the ‘glass man’ through and through. Many people who undertook the former Institute of Packaging Diploma at that time benefitted from his encyclopaedic knowledge.


Career in industry

David started his career with Osram and moved to Rockware Glass in 1966, working at Greenford, Northampton, and then Yorkshire. I first met him in the late 1970s when I was working in packaging development for Avon. In true Avon style at the time, we wanted glass containers in all manner of strange shapes, which challenged what was technically possible with glass as a packaging material. High quality specifications were also needed, suitable for filling on automated lines with no variation in colour or decoration.

David thrived on such challenges and while others would shake their heads sagely, he took a ‘let’s think about this carefully’ approach. Invariably he would produce an acceptable, and often ingenious, solution. In doing so, he stretched technical possibilities, furthered his company’s reputation and gained customers’ respect.

He was held in high regard within the industry. Consequently, it was not surprising that when he reached retirement age, Rockware retained his services for a further 10 years, as a consultant providing technical support to glass manufacturers in Russia and other countries in Eastern Europe.

David took part in the ‘Russian Project’ in 1999, when the Institute won an EU-funded contract to help the Russian Federation develop packaging education. A delegation of 10 leading academics and industry specialists came to Sysonby Lodge, Melton Mowbray, for a series of lectures on packaging materials and development. David was the first choice to deliver the session on glass – his knowledge and professionalism were recognised by our visitors. At the course dinner on the final evening, they insisted that he sit at the head of the table, very much revered as the elder statesman.


Career in academia

Towards the end of 1999 he decided that it was time to step back from lecturing, but not before he identified, and then nurtured, a suitable replacement (Andy Hartley) who gradually took over. In recognition of his contribution to packaging education and training, David was made a Life Fellow in September 2000.

David was the quintessential English gentleman and I always enjoyed his company. In later years, this was limited to occasional telephone conversations, the last one being in August when we reminisced about Dixie Dean (see The Packaging Professional, September/October 2010, p22). Although unwell for some time, David passed away quite quickly and his funeral took place in the parish church in his home village, Biddenham.

To his wife, daughter and son, I should like to extend both my personal condolences and those of the many Institute members who knew him.