He was my 1st cousin, but old enough to be my Dad. His children (my 1st cousins, once removed) were the cousins I played with, hunted Easter eggs with and spent the night with at our grandmother’s (Big Mama’s) house. This was in Clermont, FL. What used to be a small citrus community west of an also unknown town called Orlando.
It used to take us all of 30 minutes to drive to my grandparents’ house when I was growing up. We watched for the only landmark among acres of orange groves during our drive—The Citrus Tower!
How times have changed. Clermont and Orlando are nearly inseparable. But I will never forget my growing up years and the adults who watched over me.
I learned last week that he left this life. I cried remembering the ways he helped our family through the years.
He was in the citrus business as was his dad, granddad and great-grandad before him. But he watched the industry dissipate. It was such a sad day when he bought the last 20 acres of groves from my Mom to develop it into a neighborhood. Of course we were grateful he was able to do this from a financial standpoint. But my Mom and I never went back to Oswalt Road in South Clermont after it was fully developed. Not because we weren’t happy for how he had taken the next step in our family’s story, but because we wanted to remember what was. My Mom moved there from Oklahoma when she was only 9 months old. This was her hometown!
Richard “Buddy” Oswalt went to be with the Lord last week.
I loved his laughter, his pranks and the way he loved life. Following is the tribute his three surviving children wrote about him. You’ll see what a man he was by the legacy he leaves behind.
Buddy was born on September 16,1937 in Clermont, FL. to Vick and Frances Oswalt. Buddy was a lifelong resident of Clermont, graduating from Clermont High School in 1955.
He passed away peacefully on September 26, 2022, surrounded by his loving family at his home in Clermont.
He married his high school sweetheart Gloria in 1957, the love of his life. He was employed by his father Vick Oswalt who owned Oswalt Grove Service, a citrus grove caretaking business. He became his dad’s right-hand man. His mother Frances was the office manager and bookkeeper. During his lifetime he also was involved in several ventures always connected to the citrus industry. B&O Dragline, Florida Air Spraying, Lake-Sumter Fruit Dealers and buying several orange groves through the years.
He belonged to the Clermont Jaycees who at the time built the Clermont Jaycee Beach. He was also a Clermont City Councilman for 4 years.
After the Citrus Industry in this area was devastated in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, he began thinking of new ways to use his grove land. He attracted a few home builders who were looking for land to build homes for the new residents moving to this area. His son-in-law, Bill Thomas, custom home builder, built the first beautiful brick home in Crescent Bay on South Lakeshore Dr. on Crescent Lake. There were several more neighborhoods built throughout Clermont and South Clermont on Oswalt Land, one being on a family property originally owned by his Great Grandfather & Grandfather, purchased for a citrus grove in 1920.
He loved ranching, hunting, fishing, working and being in the outdoors. One of his special loves was growing things. He enjoyed growing oranges, lemons, avocados apples, peaches, blueberries, pecans, asparagus, flowers, and his favorites, daylilies, hibiscus, and flowering trees in both Florida and North Carolina. He took great pride in everything he did.
In the last 15 years, he enjoyed his mountain home on Cranberry Creek extending his love of water from Florida to North Carolina where he and Gloria spent the summers. He had the best of both worlds enjoying all the spring, summer and fall flowers and leaves. They met many friends through the church and the community where they lived.
He dearly loved his wife of 65 years, the love of his life and his family and especially spending time with them telling stories and making everyone laugh!
Survivors include, his wife, Gloria, daughters, Vicki O. Thomas (Bill), Becki O. Young (Faron) and son Mark A. Oswalt (Sara) He was preceded in death by his son Richard E. Oswalt, Jr. “Rick”, his father, Vick Oswalt and mother, Frances Oswalt, grandparents William and Grace Oswalt.
Grandchildren, Stacey Padgett, Stephanie Giraldo, Michael Kirkand, Mason Oswalt, Grace Oswalt, Lily Oswalt and Holden Oswalt. He has 6 great grandchildren Hunter and Joshua Crumbo, Madison and Makenli Kirkland, and Isabella and Ryan Giraldo. He is also survived by many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Brothers, Tom Oswalt (Shirley), John Oswalt (Carol) and sisters, Carolyn Bond (Wayne), and Dianne Russ (Charlie).
Funeral services will be held Friday, October 7, 2022, 2pm, at the First United Methodist Church of Clermont. The family will receive friends starting at 1pm at the church.
May he Rest In Peace!