Two Loudon County Republicans and one sweet bear have chanced
to become a part of political history with the presidential election of 2012.
resident Ed Osborne hand crafted a flag-waving black bear in an Uncle Sam costume, which has been
riding the bus with the Mitt Romney campaign.
Osborne thought he had retired from wood crafts
awhile back, but a woman came to him asking him to make a patriotic bear for her in return for the
pattern. He complied, and cut three more from the pattern for family members.
When the Loudon
County Republican Party campaign office opened July 4, Osborne decided to brighten the interior
decor with his patriotic bear. The bear was placed on the shelf inside the door and those who
entered were given an opportunity to register to win it.
On Aug. 11, anotheridentical bear
left with Romney's bus driver to be placed on the campaign bus.
"The bus driver is a Loudon
County resident and honey bear is a Loudon County crafted treasure," Monta Hirzel, local Republican
Party chairman, said. "Loudon County is well represented on the campaign trail."
reasons, the U.S. Secret Service does not want information published about the bus driver. Should
Romney win the election, the bear could visit the oval office.
The bus driver has reported
that the bear has been nicknamed "honey bear" because Romney enjoys honey and peanut butter
Osborne has been making wood crafts for 40 years. He came to Lenoir City in 1984
and opened a craft shop making bear- and moose-theme items for a trading post in Sevierville. He
made bear coffee tables, end tables and hall tables, bear silhouettes and more.
"It was just
me and I couldn't cut them out and paint them fast enough to cover the overhead of the shop," he
said. "So I closed the shop and started teaching at Roane State Community College. I taught, with
and for Wade Johnson, business management classes."
A Navy career veteran who served more
than 24 years, Osborne had learned industrial electricity and electronics and taught in
Jacksonville, Fla., for a number of years.
After moving to Lenoir City, Osborne said he
could not get used to retirement.
"I opened the shop to have something to do," he said. "I
understood what my granddad had meant by not being able to be still without going nuts. I had been
busy all my life."
The patriotic bear was something that came about after Osborne closed his
shop. A woman came by with the pattern and asked him to make it for her. She said he could keep the
pattern if he wished.
Osborne gets emotional at the thought that something he created could
be a part of a presidential campaign. "It may come back autographed," Osborne said. "By a
And that, he said, would be almost unbearably sweet.