A tribute to Mr. Robert M Oulsnam

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Robert Major Oulsnam

7th November 1920 – 7th November 2012

Mr Oulsnam founded Robert Oulsnam & Company on 1st January 1971 which is now one of the Midland’s leading estate agents carrying forward his promise to adhere to the highest level of standards where the customer always comes first.

During his long and very successful career Mr Oulsnam has a very shrewd business mind and was always very generous and kind.  Mr Oulsnam was born in Barnt Green and lived in the area all of his life.  During the Second World War Mr Oulsnam was a Staff Sergeant serving in the Royal Army Medical Core and as a nurse he was sent to Northern France shortly after the DD landings to treat civilians.  Due to his love of music, he was also in the Entertainment National Service Association when he organised concerts in Indian and was also active in the Army Benevolent Fund.

In his early days Mr Oulsnam had a dance and jazz band ‘Robert Oulsnam and his Orchestra’ in which he played the xylophone.  The band played at Birmingham Town hall amongst other venues.  He was heavily involved in the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham being a Chairman of the board for a period of time.

After the war he joined Birmingham estate agents H. Donald Dixon first as a Manager and subsequently as a Partner.  He drove the expansion of the business amalgamating with two other firms to form Dixon Dobson and Carver.  He left in 1971 to set up business on his own where he was joined by his son Andrew.  Together they have expanded the business to where it is today with nine estate agents offices and large Lettings and Block Management Departments.

Mr Oulsnam was one of the three founder members of Bromford Housing Association which has become one of the largest housing associations in the country; he was also a Trustee of the Michael Blanning Trust which provides housing accommodation for the elderly.

He was a former National and International President of the 41 Club, a social networking organisation for men aged over 40 who are also former members of the Round Table and as a result he has many friends around the world. 

He is be survived by his second wife Patricia and two children, of which Andrew Oulsnam is now Managing Partner of Robert Oulsnam & Company.

Tributes from staff

"He was always very willing to be a ‘stand in Warden ‘ at the sheltered developments although his only First Aid training was delivering babies in France during the War and his knowledge of ‘ladies plumbing’.His basic requirement of all disputes, complaints or negotiations was that ‘we all end up as friends’.I never knew him to lose his temper – he would laugh if we got frustrated, irate or stressed. Everything could wait another day and it would all sort itself out.He was a people person – he used to say ‘it was all about relationships’ and when taking on staff it was the person and not the qualifications that counted.He always thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas staff dinner dances – especially the lovely ladies – and even had a ‘boogie’ on occasions if a pretty girl encouraged him.He was ‘old school’ – polite, charming and professional and was respected by all those he had dealing through the Block Management Department." – Su Sedgwick, Housing Manager

"Mr Oulsnam was a wonderful, generous and kind gentleman, always willing to help whenever a problem occurred and always keen to take an interest in my life outside of work.  He is an inspiration to the younger generation proving that you can achieve anything you wish if you work hard enough.  He was always on hand with stories from the past and joked with having previous medical training offered to help deliver my baby should I go into labour whilst at work!" – Julie Powell, Senior Administrator

"I will always remember Mr Oulsnam very fondly, he used to pull up outside Woodbridge Road in his Land Rover and literally stop traffic! His musical tales never failed to amuse me. He always took a personal interest in me and my family and made me feel he was genuinely interested in me as a person and not just as an employee!"  Freda Kendall

"There are so many things one could say but I remember one of his favourite comments when trying to work through solving problems was “it’s all about relationships” and this seemed to work for him." – Clare Mudie, Secretary to Mr R Oulsnam

"Mr Oulsnam commanded an incredible amount of respect.  Working initially at another office, I didn’t speak to him on a regular basis but always held him in very high esteem, and if truth be told, was always a little nervous of speaking to ‘Mr Oulsnam’.  I then had the privilege of getting to know him when I came to work at the Barnt Green office.  He was a wonderful man; full of stories of what was obviously a very full, interesting life lived to the full.  He always had time to ask how I was, and remembered details of my own life & family, showing he took a personal interest in all of his staff.  I loved chatting with him and found him a great inspiration, both in work and in life". – Claire Brackpool, Branch Manager at Barnt Green.

If you would like to leave a tribute, please email Julie Powell at julie@oulsnam.net and we can add your tribute to this page.

"Mr Oulsnam was a lovely man and always full of wise advice and great stories. I will always rememeber him coming into our shop on Lickey Road and always being very interested  about our business and the systems we used, this from a man who was almost 90 years old but still had a very active and curious mind. He was obviously a man who had lived a full and productive life and i for one appreciated the time he spent talking to me and giving great advice. It was a privilege to have know him !!" - John Tilley,   Tailor Made

I had the privilege of working for RMO (as we called him) for several years commencing 13 January 1975 at his office in Smallbrook Queensway close to the Alexandra Theatre.  He, together with Charles Bucknall, one of his co-founders of The Bromford Housing Association, were, quite simply, two of finest gentlemen one could have as employers and friends.

RMO was a gentleman in every sense of the word, kind, tolerant and considerate to his staff in every possible way.  I have some truly wonderful memories of my time spent working with him – one, in particular, of the day he collected his new Mercedes, colour – Salmon Pink!

Robert Oulsnam; Charles Bucknall; Derek Salzberg – three fantastic gentlemen; marvellous times; tremendous memories. - Chris Laing (Mrs) nee Stevens, previously whilst working for RMO, Richards and Challis 

I knew Robert for well over 30 years when I first opened my office in Rubery and when I moved to 137 New Road Rubery, Robert leased part of my premises from me for his Estate Agency. It was always a pleasure to meet with Robert, professionally or otherwise during the last 30 years or more and particularly in the last few years when he visited Troths the Opticians in Rubery which is next to my office.  Robert always stopped to say hello and chat with me.  - Gordon Jones - Gordon Jones & Co. Solicitors Rubery

Without fail I met fortnightly, with Mr Oulsnam, for almost 18 years! He first visited me in 1988, not long after I became a self employed beauty therapist renting a room in a city centre hair salon in Birmingham. It was a manicurist at Rackham's who directed him over to me as, in those days, I believe they did not cater for Gentlemen. Admittedly every 14 days, without fail, I would dread the hour he was due to arrive for his manicure. Why? who knows! although I truly believe he sensed the dread I felt, and revelled in it!

That aside each time he rose from his seat to shake my hand and thank me for my time, closely followed by a close inspection of each fingernail, I felt an overwhelming sense of being privileged! Why? again I do not know ... especially since he never failed to grumble about the £8 I charged and the parking fee he had to pay just to visit me! I remember increasing my rates, several years down the line, but never finding the right moment to tell him. Several years later I had the courage to ask him for the extra £1 increase. OMG did he throw a wobbly! Although he never agreed to pay the increased fee, he always placed a £1 coin in my palm and said this is for you [a tip!] Needless to say, each visit thereafter, I received a £1 tip for my efforts!

I have extremely fond memories of Robert Oulsnam. Having had the opportunity to hear his stunning tales, benefit from his sound business advice and smile whilst he discreetly tried to guide me through life like a father would. I surmise that all the above is why I felt somewhat privileged to have met him although I never really got to know him! My best regards to his petite, gracious, gentle wife [who wore the trousers with the highest heels!] and all of his family. Michelle Price [Lerage Beauty]

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