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Things really clicking for new owner of Dark Room, chairman of DDA

Greg Masse
Staff Writer

David Osborne is about as local a local as you can get. Born in the old Hot Springs Lodge in 1950, he’s spent his life in Glenwood Springs.

Osborne graduated from Glenwood Springs High School, then went off to Colorado State University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in forestry/wildlife biology.

During the Vietnam War, he joined the Army Reserves.

“I was a drill sergeant at Fort Polk, La.,” he said. “I was an active drill sergeant for two years.”

After a total of six years in the Reserves, he was honorably discharged and stayed in Glenwood Springs.

“My parents owned the Dodge-Chrysler dealership in town from 1954 to 1977,” he said. “My grandparents owned the Answer Shop – a camera store.”

They ran that shop from the 1950s to the late 1960s.

Also, his father did photojournalism in the 1940s and ’50s, shooting two covers of Life Magazine during that time.

“That’s where my photo background comes from,” he said. “My grandfather gave me my first camera in 1956. It was a Brownie Starmite. I still have it.”

In 1975, while hanging out at Los Desperados, Osborne met Barbara Gorman, the woman who would become his wife.

“Her brother-in-law was a bartender at Los Desperados,” he said, explaining that the barkeep was married to her sister. “I bought her a boat because she loved to water-ski and I figured she’d teach me.”

In 1981, after Dave and Barbara were married, the couple sold antiques and restored furniture in Glenwood Springs. The business lasted until 1985.

It was then that the city was getting ready to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

“In 1985 I went to work with the chamber and city to take care of the centennial,” he said.

The celebration, as those who were there could attest, was a big one. Football legend Joe Theisman was part of the celebration and the city became the hub for the Mountain Man Rendezvous.

In August 1985, a potentially life-altering – or life-taking – occurrence happened to Osborne: He was shot.

While he was standing at the fourth tee at the Westbank golf course, a .22-caliber bullet struck Osborne underneath his right arm and lodged next to his spine.

“I knew I’d been shot,” he said. “A 7-year-old and a 9-year-old got their dad’s pistol. They were too young to do anything with” in terms of prosecution.

He was rushed to Valley View Hospital where doctors were able to dislodge the bullet.

“What was funny about that day is I was supposed to be coordinating a wine tasting at the Hotel Denver for Crime Stoppers,” he said.

The shooting and subsequent recovery period sort of forced him out of the antique business. But he still felt lucky the injury wasn’t worse. “I could have been anything from dead to paralyzed, but instead I had a complete recovery,” he said.

Osborne said while he likes to do many different things, his real passion is off-road driving. He was vice president of the Colorado Four-Wheel Drive Association from 1993-96 and president from 1996-97. He was also voted United Four Wheeler of the Year in 1996, noted for his environmental concern while driving and his affinity to share the off-road areas with other user groups.

When the recently released White River National Forest plan was in its beginning stages, Osborne was asked to represent off-road groups.

“My Jeep has been in a number of magazines,” he said of his 1986 Jeep CJ-7. “I did over the whole frame.”

Barbara, he added, is just as into four wheeling as he is, and just as good – or better – as a driver.

Some of his favorite places to go four wheeling are Moab, Utah, Battlement Mesa and in the Holy Cross Ranger District, but he’s ridden through mud and over rocks all over America.

“This year it’s kind of taken a back seat,” he said.

Taking over the front seat has been his newly acquired business, The Dark Room.

Osborne started at the camera shop about three years ago, working for $9 an hour as the studio manager. Then, when former owner Marc Schuman decided he would rather close up shop than face an impending move, Osborne decided to buy it.

“We knew at the end of October his lease was up and they weren’t going to renew it and he didn’t want to move,” Osborne said.

He has since moved the business to the 700 block of Cooper Avenue.

“I’ve worked for ad agencies, sales jobs, everything from pressure washers to cell phones, but nothing really clicked until this came along,” he said.

Now, surrounded by cameras, there’s a lot of clicking in his life.

“I really enjoy it, it’s not like coming into work.”

Aside from nurturing his new business, Osborne has an abundance of other activities on his plate. He was recently appointed as the chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, he’s a Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, a Rotary Club member, in the High Country Four Wheelers, and in the Photo Marketing Association.

“At this point I just enjoy giving back to the community,” he said. “It’ll never be the same as it was in the ’50s, but there’s a lot we can do to make it a friendlier environment for the locals and the tourists.

“There’s been lots and lots of changes, but there have always been good restaurants. Glenwood has always been a really friendly community town.”

The future of the city’s downtown core, Osborne figures, should include more unique shops with a very friendly pedestrian mall-type atmosphere.

Like anywhere, change has been a constant here since Osborne was a kid.

“The growth has just been huge. There used to be trees right down the middle of Grand Avenue. Midland Avenue was a dirt road and what’s now the (Cardiff) pedestrian bridge was the only bridge over the (Roaring) Fork,” he said.


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