Brundidge loses beloved ‘Sign Man’

Published 6:33 pm Monday, July 28, 2014

Brundidge has lost its character.

Oscar Kyle “O.K.” McDowell died on Saturday leaving a void in the city of Brundidge that cannot be filled.

McDowell, a lifetime resident of Brundidge, owned and operated City Antiques “just this side of the railroad tracks” and made his mark as “The Sign Man.”

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“A lot of people came to Brundidge because of O.K.’s business and his personality,” said Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage. “He had that gift of gab that put people at ease. No matter where I went, city business or banking business, somebody would come up to me and say they knew O.K. He was a real character. People would come to town just to see him. Being around him made you feel good.”

Ramage said McDowell loved Brundidge and he loved people and people loved him back.

“O.K. was bigger than life,” Ramage said. “Brundidge won’t be the same without him. That’s for sure.”

Rue Botts agreed that McDowell was a popular Brundidge businessman and a real interesting fellow.

She and her husband, the late Douglas Botts, owned and operated Rue’s Antiques on Main Street.

“There weren’t many days that Oscar didn’t come in the store and we’d sit and gab,” Botts said. “We were both in the same business but he was not selfish. He helped Douglas and me get into the antique business. When people came to City Antiques, he would tell them they needed to go to Rue’s and Abe’s and on down to Green’s Antiques. He’d say, ‘They got all the good stuff.’”

Botts said, too, that McDowell was a “character.”

“I mean that in the best way,” she said. “He always kept something going on. He could talk and he could tell. People that I didn’t even know would come in the store and say they had been down to City Antiques and had been well entertained. Oscar could entertain the boots off you.”

As an only child, McDowell, looked to others to be his brothers and sisters, Botts said.

“And, not just the older people. The young people enjoyed being around him. He was the kind of person that people like to be around.”

Botts said McDowell helped make the city’s first Peanut Butter Festival possible 23 years ago.

“He loaned antique displays and set them up for that first festival,” she said. “We didn’t even know if anybody would come. But that didn’t matter to Oscar. He worked just like we were expecting ten thousand people. He supported the We Piddle Around Theater by loaning items for the play and other events. ‘Y’all just bring it back.’ He was very community-minded. He loved his town and he will be missed.”

Don Dickert said McDowell loved old stuff, especially advertising signs.

“He liked to find things that other collectors would want,” Dickert said. “I know of several people who built cabins and old country store type buildings and came to Oscar to find ‘furnishings’ for them. He helped preserve a lot of our history.

“He also played a big part in the Brundidge Country Club and was one of the ones who helped make it work.”

Dickert said McDowell was a good family man who enjoyed having his family around.

“O.K. wasn’t going to get too far away from home but he wanted to have his family there with him,” Dickert said. “He and his family were all close. He was a devoted family man. We’re all going to miss him. Things won’t be the same without him.”