Businessman Julian Osbon dies




Julian Osbon, who pioneered a treatment for impotence in the 1980s and retired to a second career of Augusta philanthropy, has died at age 74.

Those who knew Osbon often cite his visionary and entrepreneurial spirit.

His business accumen earned him several awards, including the Presidential “E” Award in 1993, a federal honor for exporters, the Georgia Small Businessman of the Year in 1995 and the Spirit of Georgia award from the Georgia Economic Developers Association in 1997.

He is past president of Augusta Tomorrow and past chair for the CSRA Community Foundation.

“He was an intelligent person and a visionary person,” said R. Lee Smith, the foundation’s president. “He continued to give back and supported issues and good things that made Augusta move forward. He was a very dynamic person and a very giving person.”

Osbon was named Augusta Philanthropist of the Year in 1996. His community involvement included stints for Augusta History Museum, Historic Augusta, University Health Care Foundation and the executive committee of the Medical College of Georgia Research Institute. He was also on the board for the Georgia Medical Center Authority.

Osbon, who has a profile page at Forbes magazine’s Web site, sat on the board of directors for Georgia-Carolina Bancshares, which runs First Bank of Georgia. He resigned his board position in 2012 as his health declined.

“People who knew Julian knew he was a wise counsel. He thought before he spoke. He was very thoughtful, entrepreneurial and very ethical,” said Remer Brinson III, president of the bank. “We’ll miss Julian. He has quite a legacy in our community.”

Osbon was a downtown landowner, with several apartment buildings under his control.

Osbon, who turned 74 last week, was born in Aiken and worked for his father’s tire company until the early 1980s when he started his medical company to sell his father’s erectile dysfunction invention. The Osbon ErecAid was synonymous with vacuum therapy in the treatment of erectile dysfunction before Viagra. Osbon Medical Systems grew to become a business with $30 million annual sales and then merged with a California company in 1995 in a $46 million deal.

Four years later, Osbon got back into the industry by buying a small company in Alabama that sold similar vacuum therapy aids to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and renamed it SOMA Blue Inc. It went out of business in 2003 after being ravaged by lawsuits from competitors.

“They didn’t want anyone named Osbon back in the business,” Osbon told the The Chronicle in 2007.

Osbon had another legal controversy, settling a federal Medicare fraud case out of court in 2012 for $1.4 million. Osbon said there may have been some billing mistakes made between closing SOMA Blue and opening Augusta Medical Systems, but he stopped fighting the matter due to his leukemia diagnosis.

Osbon leaves behind three sons, Michael, Christopher and John, and two grandchildren. He got his bachelor of arts in finance and business administration from Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.