Monday, November 14, 2011

Tribute to my Dad, Howard Otteson

One year ago today, my Dad died.  He was at work drilling teeth on Thursday, he fell in the parking lot of his dental office that day, and died peacefully the following Sunday. He was 80 years old.

He loved his grandchildren.  He was always kind to my mom.

He built a boat.  The whole thing from scratch.  It is still at my mom's house.  I was too young, but all my brothers helped build that boat upside down in our garage.  We had a childhood full of vacations and memories with that boat.  And lots of time watching my dad try to fix it.

He was a painter.

One year he gave each of us a brand new painting.  This is the one I was gifted and it hangs in Millie's bedroom.

He collected old cars from the 60s.  I used to be embarrassed by them when I was younger.  Whenever I took my kids to visit them in Oregon, he would bring home this beauty from the office and take the kids out for a Cold Stone ice cream.

In the summer, he would take us to Oaks Park, an historic amusement park in Portland, Oregon.

He sang with a group called The New Oregon Singers for many years.  He traveled the world with them and often took my mom.  Us kids even got to tag along on a few trips.  Some of my siblings sang with the group as well.  I love this photo of my mom and dad walking in Greece.

Cooking was one of his best hobbies.  Before the days of food network, he video-taped cooking shows and tried lots of delicious dishes.  He had several chinese stir fry's, a Chinese BBQ pork, a phyllo dough-chicken wrapped stuffing concoction, plenty of steaks and salmon, homemade chicken nuggets, and he could whip up a mean sweet 'n sour sauce out of nowhere.  The last several years, he was obsessed with making quiche.  He was good at putting anyone near the kitchen to work, and teaching them how to cut julienne sliced veggies (like he did to Brent a day or two before we were married -welcome to the Otteson family!)

Dad loved ballroom dancing.  This was the cover of a local dance magazine that featured Dad.  He always took lessons and performed in competitions.  He loved to choreograph his own routines.

Aside from the endless supply of assorted popsicles, I think my kids' next favorite thing was when he'd offer up his change.  He had a medium-sized mixing bowl full of change - not mostly pennies, but good change.  He'd have each kid hold open a ziplock baggie, then he'd do a double-hand scoop of change into each of their bags.  They loved sorting, stacking, and counting that money, which usually added up to nearly $20 each.

He invented another funny tradition. He took every grandchild, when they were around 3 years old, on a special grocery shopping trip.  He videotaped the whole thing and the grandchild picked whatever they could fit in the kid-sized shopping cart.  He'd purchase everything they chose, even if it was yucky.

There's so much more to tell.  This just barely skims the surface.

He was generous with his food, his funds, and his talents.  And he was a very gentle dentist. 

Oh, and he built a house, built furniture, fixed cars, planted a garden, and so much more!  I'm sure he's a busy man up there in Heaven.  I'm not sure how so many talents got bottled-up into one human body.

I love ya' Dad.  I've been thinking about you all day.  


  1. I loved reading this! Although I only knew him for a couple of short years, I feel very blessed for having been able to get to know him a little. I noticed right away that he had the amazing ability to brighten up any room with his magnetic personality, we sure do miss him!

  2. This is so wonderful Valene! I remember so many of those little things as well. I dont think I EVER remember him without a smile either! I stole that picture of them in Greece- what a great picture of the two of them! This was a wonderful tribute and makes me remember so many of the little things that made him so much fun! Thanks for sharing. Love you!

  3. Many fun memories of your dad and family. Loved water skiing and boating. He was loads of fun and always upbeat! A one of a kind. Laurie Stratford Aiwohi

  4. Obviously I didn't know your dad but oh how I loved this tribute to him, what a cool guy he was! I need to call my dad

  5. Beautiful tribute! What a "man for all seasons". So many varied talents. Such a handsome man also. He must have been born the same year as my dad (who died 4 years ago this past August). Perhaps they have become friends in that great waiting place above:)

    Love the Raggedy Ann painting.

  6. I love that you did this VaLene. When we were teenagers and my parents had recently been divorced I found the stability at your home inspiring and hopeful. Your father was, to me, the epitome of what a father 'should be'. He had this amazing ability to gracefully transition from work to home and back again. I remember the passion for cooking and dance. Funny, I don't remember The Ottesea, which is odd because of my love for boats. Was there anything he couldn't do?! Handsome, cultured, creative and responsible. In tandem with your amazing mother and siblings I found, in all of you, a model family to aspire to, and to work towards. Also, they were just a lot of fun!

  7. How am I just now reading this?! What a terrific man! I love the picture of Brent. Was he 17 when you got married? ;)

  8. So sorry to hear of your dads passing. I worked on some of his vehicles in trade for Dental services off and on from the 1970s (when I was working for S&H Auto Repair) into the 2000s. I thought he was a great friend and will miss him greatly. Of course everyone else that he came into contact with feels the same way.Love, Royal Hibbard