Remembering ‘Cotton’

Published 12:03 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Whether Colton “Cotton” Osborne was fighting fires, or running the bases during a baseball game, he was probably making someone laugh.

“Colton was the type of person who smiled constantly, no matter what,” said Josh Whitten, president of the Chase City Volunteer Fire Department. He said Osborne “was the type of person everyone wanted to have around. He was a great firefighter and friend.”

The 18-year-old from Wylliesburg died during an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accident on Aug. 27. 

Colton was riding with Tyler Wilkins, who was involved in a separate accident only moments later, according to Virginia State Police (VSP). Wilkins was transported to Duke Medical Center for injuries from the accident.

Throughout the community, Colton is remembered for his positive outlook.

He was a volunteer firefighter for the Chase City and Bacon District volunteer fire departments.

Whitten shared a story about his friend: “I remember one time at training, we working on ladder skills. Colton volunteered to be carried down the ladder as the ‘pregnant lady,’ On the way down the ladder, his bunker pants rode up about to his knees. The whole time he had the biggest smile on his face and laughed the whole way down.”

Whitten recalled, “That’s the type of person he was. He smiled all the time, midday or 2 in the morning.”

Colton loved his family, and especially loved his big brother, Dylan Osborne. He called Dylan his “Bubba,” Whitten said. “He loved his fire department family.”

Dylan remembered his brother fondly. He was just a great guy. He could walk into a room and light the whole room up with his smile.”

Dylan is also a firefighter with the Bacon District Volunteer Fire Department. He remembered, “When I first became a fireman in 2011, all (Colton) wanted to do was ride with me to the station and watch the trucks go out.”

Dylan said a few years later, Colton joined the fire department and started learning. “He stuck to my side like glue the first few months, then he got the hang of it and started becoming the best he could be.”

The brothers only fought one fire together, but Dylan reflects fondly on the memory. He said he was working on an interior attack and noticed two other firemen assisting.

“I later got close enough and noticed C. Osborne on the back of the jacket, and I was so proud to finally fight a fire with my little brother.”

Colton also enjoyed baseball and hunting, Dylan said.

Colton, a 2016 Randolph-Henry High School graduate, played baseball for the school for five years, two as a J.V. player and three for the varsity team.

James Allen, his coach for four of those years, said “All I can say is he was the ultimate teammate.”

“He didn’t play a whole lot, but when he did play he contributed and when he wasn’t playing he was always lead cheerleader on the team,” Allen recalled.

He said Colton was always happy and never had a negative thing to say. Allen remembered Colton “was just a great kid to be around all the time. There was never a dull moment with him.”

Colton planned to attend Southside Virginia Community College in the fall to pursue a degree in fire sciences, Dylan said.

“When the trucks go out from now on it’ll never be the same without him,” Dylan said.