Oscar Lawrence Huskins, age 67, passed away on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
Mr. Huskins was born on March 11, 1954, son of the late John Huskins and Deliah Brown Huskins.
On a cold March day, a horse-drawn buggy wended along the snowy country roads, slowly making its way to the home of John and Deliah Huskins. The snowstorm was ongoing, and had blanketed the entire region in white. The wagon brought the nearest doctor available, along with a single nurse, to help deliver Oscar. Named after his uncle, he was the youngest of nine siblings.
Oscar was raised on a farm, where a person learns to start working at a young age. Every moment of his early life was bent towards raising cattle or tending chicken houses or picking cotton. In his later years, he would always say it was his sister Mary who stood closest to him in those times, teaching him, looking after him. When he was fifteen, and Mary had moved out of the house to be on her own, she told Oscar she was scared to be alone, and so he moved in with her, to look after her.
If you ask anyone who knew him, they will tell you this exemplifies the life of Oscar Huskins: always one to look out for others.
The stories are almost too numerous, and when you speak to those who knew him for even a little while, there seems to be no end. In tenth grade, Oscar and his lifelong friend Jimmy Rutledge were in a school bus when it crashed. With the much younger kids trapped inside, and the driver unable to do much to help, Oscar and Jimmy worked together to pull all the kids out of the bus to safety. He said he remembered everyone saying they were heroes, and he said, “Not really. It’s just what you do.”
Stories like this pile on, until you reach the culmination of Oscar’s instincts to help others in need: that being his decision to join the Cartersville City Fire Department. Known as “Big O” to those who worked with him, Oscar set himself apart as a leader and a friend to the men he served with. His reputation for being willing to go first into a fire, or any bad situation, garnered respect from everyone, and you often hear from men who worked with him, “If Oscar was on call with you, you knew you were going to be okay. He absolutely had your back.”
A major fire in a tower at a Budweiser plant brought firefighters from all around. Many others tried to ascend the ladders to the top of the tower, but the combination of the heat and the physical exertion had men backing off, unable to reach the top. The firefighters that were there said, “Oscar took all his gear, and some of the other men’s gear, and he just said, ‘It’s got to be done.’ And so he just did it.” He climbed to the top and remained there all day until the fire was out.
The men he worked with will tell you about his sense of humor, as well, even in the face of great danger, or when tensions were high. Like the time a woman had parked her car on a steep hill just beside the fire station, but forgot to put on the parking brake. She was still inside when the vehicle rolled backward, nearly hitting a couple of people before slamming into a ditch. She was so scared she was crying, but when Oscar approached her, he laughed and said, “Hey lady! You can’t park here!” It immediately defused the situation, making her smile and calm down.
But Oscar was also committed to his family. He met his first wife Sheila when they were both in their early twenties, and they fell in love instantly. They had two children, and, because Oscar had a deep love for the outdoors, they traveled together all over the United States. Everyone knows Oscar could recall for you, in depth, the history of America’s national parks, and talk all day about animals and trees and the weather. With pinpoint accuracy, he could guide himself through the Blue Ridge Mountains, without a map or compass, and never get lost.
Oscar’s love for the outdoors knew no bounds. You could tell this by his favorite films (Dances with Wolves) and his favorite kind of music (John Denver). In fact, perhaps nothing underscores his love for the outdoors more than a line from one of his favorite songs, “Rocky Mountain High,” which describes a man entering the outdoors for the first time as, “Coming home to a place he’d never been before,” and goes on, “He knew he’d be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly.”
These were the things Oscar Huskins found important. Family, duty, and a deep spiritual connection to the outdoors. There is no person who can say Oscar did not believe devoutly in the power of Nature and its ability to heal the soul just by being in it.
In his youth, Oscar enjoyed hunting and fishing, but as he got older, he carried his rifle through the woods more for protection than to hunt. He genuinely loved being out in the open canvas of a wilderness painted by God and the elements. He could stand outside in freezing weather in a short-sleeved shirt and shorts, and look perfectly comfortable. And he would do it so that he wouldn’t miss a sunset, or a brewing storm, or a meteor shower.
And he tried to record every minute of it. Oscar had one of the earliest VHS video recorders, and started filming footage in the 1980s and throughout the rest of his life. He took pictures of the geysers in Yellowstone, the leaves changing in the Cohutta wilderness, the giant Sequoias in California, or even just the deer in his back yard; anything that reminded him of the awesome power of Nature.
Like all of us, Oscar endured hardships. His eldest son struggled to walk again after suffering from Guillain-Barre syndrome, and Oscar worried himself to death over it — (and that son eventually recovered, and grew to become a firefighter himself). His youngest son suffered from spinal meningitis, which was life-threatening for a time. Even after he and Sheila weathered these storms together, Sheila herself became sick from cancer, and passed away young, at just thirty-nine.
As a widower, Oscar persevered, and raised his two sons until they were out of high school. During this time, he did not travel much. The part of him that wanted to be outdoors was put on hold, while he made sure his sons had all the attention they needed in order to survive their mother’s passing.
In 2000, Oscar remarried to Joyce Bevil, one of Sheila’s oldest and best friends, and together, they began a new journey. Oscar retired from the Fire Department around this time, and bought a cabin in the Cohutta mountains, where he and Joyce spent a lot of their time. A new chapter was opened for Oscar, one in which he got to explore Nature again, and spend time with someone he dearly loved, and who he shared everything with.
For Oscar, Nature might have been gorgeous, but it was made even better with someone to share it with.
As with all things involving Oscar, there are too many stories to count when it comes to his years spent with his wife, Joyce. Such as the time a tornado ripped through their house in White, which literally ripped the roof off the house just as Oscar threw himself on top of Joyce to hold her down. They both felt the catastrophic winds pulling at him, trying to suck them out into the tornado, but Oscar held onto Joyce, and whatever furniture he could, to keep them grounded.
Joyce can tell you stories about her and Oscar’s many adventures. They traveled across the country together, and stuck by each other’s side through all the years, fending off attacks by bears and wild hogs at their cabin, along with their loyal dogs Pipper, Lady, Beau, Rebel, and Pig, all of whom they adored. They walked the mountains in every season, taking it all in, and always with the dogs by their side to keep watch.
Oscar Huskins died on September 14th, 2021, just three days after the 20th anniversary of the events of September 11th, 2001. This date had special meaning for Oscar, who had been a firefighter for thirty-three years before retirement. The events of 9/11 affected him greatly, and he felt deep sorrow for all the people that suffered that day, but he felt a special connection to the police and firefighters that lost their lives, and deep sadness for their families. Oscar tried to find ways to help, and eventually visited New York City the December after the attacks.
It was always important for Oscar to try and help. Again, the stories are too numerous. There was the time in the blizzard of 1993 when two of his neighbors, an elderly couple, became trapped in their home. Without power, and without working phones, they were close to freezing to death when they fired a single, desperate gunshot in the air to try and call for help. Oscar responded, and spent all day shoveling their driveway, with the snow still coming down, and fighting to get his Dodge Ram Charger free so that he could drive them across town to a place of safety. He spent the next few days of the blizzard carefully driving across town, checking on friends and family he knew lived in remote areas.
Again and again, you hear stories of Oscar helping people.
Even after he fell ill, all of Oscar’s thoughts were marshaled towards making sure his wife, Joyce, was going to be okay. It was all he cared about and fought for.
Oscar Huskins was tough beyond belief. And loyal. He often said a good, trustworthy friend was greater than gold, and he tried to be that kind of friend to everyone. He exemplified the spirit of perseverance. And he did all of that while living a full, adventurous life — he was a musician, he was a carpenter, he wrote songs about love and about Nature, and, most importantly, he was a loving father and husband, who never forgot his duties to the ones he loved.
Oscar believed in living life to the fullest, and pursuing whatever made you happy. He knew that you only get this one life, and that it is fleeting, and that you should do your best to make it count. He was a kind of spiritual philosopher, who once said, “You only get one ticket to this rodeo. And buddy, you better spend it well.”
It would be difficult to achieve as much as Oscar Huskins did in one lifetime. And yet he did it. He persevered and never asked for a thank you. He asked only that you be his friend. The world is better off that he shared his life, his love, his laughter, and his friendship with us.
Mr. Huskins is preceded in death by his first wife, Sheila Ann Cothran Huskins; brothers, Charlie Huskins and John "Snooks" Huskins; sister, Mary Huskins Leachman.
Survivors include his loving wife of twenty-one years, Joyce Bevil Huskins; sons, Shawn Huskins, Chad Huskins and Derrick (Jennifer) Cothran; grandchildren, Errick Cothran, Anna Stephens, Halen Huskins, Abby Bearden, Ethan Cothran, Jaden Huskins and Jaxton Huskins; great-grandson, Brock Stephens; brothers James Huskins, Joe L Huskins, Bill Huskins, and Ralph “Bozo” King Jr.; sisters Marvine Shore and Eloise Gilreath; and a host of nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life service will be conducted at two o'clock in the afternoon on Tuesday, the 21st of September, 2021, in the chapel of Owen Funeral Home with Rev. Dennis Huskins officiating. Entombment will follow in Sunset Memory Gardens.
Serving as pallbearers are Halen Huskins, Jaden Huskins, Ethan Cothran, Jimmy Rutledge, Chris Leachman and Errick Cothran.
Honorary pallbearer will be Jaxton Huskins.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family for two hours prior to service time at Owen Funeral Home.
Please visit www.owenfunerals.com to post tributes and sign the online register book.
Owen Funeral Home, 12 Collins Drive, Cartersville, GA 30120, has charge of the arrangements.