VIC Column, The Man Who Refused To Die


People like this, they were just cut from a different cloth.

Mr. Sid Oswald died this month at the age of 78. We printed his obituary, then we had a visitor.

I had the chance to talk Mr. Sid’s son, Terry, who was still emotional about his dad’s passing. Thirty years ago, The Greenville News labeled Mr. Sid, of Clinton, “the man who refused to die.” Terry said people at his dad’s doctor’s office encouraged him to come down and talk to us. I am so glad they did.

Because, I learned something. In these days of easy access to suicide and popping opioids for every ache and pain, there are still people out there just cut from a different cloth. People who are in pain, and don’t complain. Do not judge, for you never know someone else’s hidden pain.

Terry said when he had to leave the Sheriff’s Office because of chronic back pain, probably inherited, he felt so sorry for himself. Looking back, he says that was disgraceful; while he didn’t want to see it at the time, his dad had things a whole lot worse. In fact, his dad encouraged Terry - “This too will pass,” “Life is worth living.”

Terry told me Mr. Sid had his first health problem in his 20s. Eventually, with back trouble and multiple strokes, he lost the use of the right side of his body - he re-learned everything, because he was right handed.

“Something that would take you and me 20 minutes, took him four hours,” Terry told me, “but he got it done.” 

Mr. Sid built houses - not long before his death, he hand-made two rocking chairs. He cooked for his wife, Claudine, and their house is just a few doors down from Terry.

“I look up, and I don’t see him on the porch,” Terry choked up. Mr. Sid “dragged” his 130 pounds along, left-handed, with a walker for the vast majority of his 78 years. Terry said he never heard his dad say, not even once, “Why me?”

Mr. Sid tried a bunch of experimental treatments to try to make his body work. Nothing did. And yet, he lifted the spirits of those around him, including six children, 13 grandchildren, and 31 great-grandchildren. His parents and three other members of his immediate family preceded him in death.

His final farewell was held at Pinelawn Memory Garden Mausoleum Chapel. His arrangements were entrusted to Gray Funeral Home of Clinton. His date of passage was August 4, 2018. His final notice says, “He will be remembered as a loving husband, daddy and papa.”

For a man, what higher tribute can there be?

I am convinced that right now, Mr. Sid is whole. He is hammering a nail right alongside the great carpenter. I have watched people build houses, a fascinating process to view. I have sat in a rocking chair - Mr. Sid didn’t build it, but he could have if he’d wanted to. Me? I face a challenge every time I pick up a Philips head screwdriver. 

Some people just have that “builder” mentality. They built their homes. They built our cities. They built us into the strongest and most blessed nation on the earth.

Build on, Mr. Sid, with two good arms and two strong hands, restored legs and a muscular back, now, and for all eternity.


(Vic MacDonald is Editor of The Clinton Chronicle.)

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