Henry James Otte was born June 1, 1931, to Frederick Charles and Erma Louise Pfister Otte at their rural Gordon home. He left his earthly home on June 10, 2020. His life with parents, two brothers and two sisters was a happy and pleasant memory until as a nine year old boy, Henry lost his father. After that life became sad and lonely, with only hard work to pass the time.
He attended three rural schools, riding a horse from five to eight miles to District 94, Sunny Slope and White Lodge.
He proudly served his country as a soldier in the US Army during the Korean War conflict. Stationed in Germany, he made lifelong friends and together they enjoyed traveling extensively through Europe; meeting the locals who adored the friendly midwestern boys who were missing home. Henry was honored to escort famous entertainers, including Elvis Presley and Eddie Fischer, around the Army base in his Jeep. Military service was completed in 1954 and he returned to Gordon.
In 1955, Henry and Gwen Ellen Johnson were married at St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Gordon.
As an honorably discharged Veteran, he was able to enroll in Vet Ag School at nights in Rushville. Income of $100 a month provided for Gwen and him to get a start on the farm. He loved learning and classmates marveled that he could pick up an anvil by the horn with just one hand.
He delighted in his family of five children, one son and four daughters. Their home was filled with the joys of country life and the hard work that went with it.
In 1964 he started a construction business in conjunction with the farming and ranching. Life became a balancing act of long days including family, work and faith. Though the work was hard he took it all in stride, never becoming discouraged as he provided for his family and still generously and graciously supported his mother.
He continued in the construction business throughout the area for more than forty years and was proud to offer jobs to more than fifty employees during that time. Many high school and college students as well as neighbors, friends and family mastered skills from and with him. He was generous in sharing his wealth of knowledge and former employees remember him as a great boss, mentor and friend.
He loved his family unconditionally, including his wife and they would have celebrated 65 years of marriage in August. He never thought his kids did anything wrong; even when they were in trouble. Summers were spent working; weekends were filled with family: camping, boating, fishing, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Henry was a big personality with a hearty infectious laugh. He loved to hear himself talk, often commenting with a hint of sarcasm. He might not remember your given name; but he would make up a good name for you instead. He loved doing things with his hands; holding his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was his favorite. Hobbies included wood working and we all suspect that he believed sawdust was man glitter. Watching the weather, keeping a routine schedule, upkeep on the house he loved, growing vegetables and flowers and his lawn kept him busy in retirement.
All things fishing was his greatest claim to fame. He taught his kids to fish; but his passion was teaching the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Each of them can regale you with a fish tale of their time spent with grandpa. The true rite of passage was achieved when you had gone to seine minnows with poles and a heavy net in his secret deep spots on a river. After the minnows were caught and you were really cold, wet and muddy; then it was a free for all at the convenience shop. There was no limit to the goodies Grandpa would buy: drinks, snacks and food. Mission accomplished! You were now an official member of the fishing club.
His faith was a sincere and honest guide in his life, he was a mass server at St. Aloysius Church at the Mission Ranch, in his early years. He later served as Eucharistic minister, greeter and Parish Council member and Mr. Fix It at St. Leo’s.
Henry is survived by his wife Gwen of 64 years, son Bradley (Shelly), daughters Debra (Maynard) Conroy, Candace, Julie and Andrea (Brian) Cummings. Grandchildren are Tracey (Leigh Ann) Otte, Lisa (Charlie) Ford, Lane, Christopher and Rhett Conroy, Breanna (Kahle) Eisenreich, Kelsey (Will) Smith, Nolan Rager (Paige Eichenberger) and Adam and Molly Cummings. Great-grandchildren are Tucker, Reagan, Deacon and Grayson Otte, Broden and Kylah Eisenreich, Jennings Ford and Hayes Smith.
He is survived by his sister Helen Tittle and numerous other extended family members.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers, Gene and Carl, and sister Martha Vinton.
The Rosary was held Monday evening, June 15, 2020 at St. Leo’s Catholic Church.
A Full Catholic mass was Tuesday, June 16, 2020 at St. Leo’s Catholic Church.
Burial will be in the Gordon Cemetery immediately following the mass.
Pallbearers: Tracey Otte, Lane, Chris and Rhett Conroy, Nolan Rager, Adam Cummings, Kahle Eisenreich, Will Smith and Charlie Ford.
Honorary Pallbearers: Leigh Ann Otte, Breanna Eisenreich, Lisa Ford, Kelsey Smith, Molly Cummings, Leroy Berning, Buck Rucker, Gary Ruse, and Wayne Yellow Shield.
Memorials are directed to: St. Leo’s Catholic Church Building Fund or the Tri-State Cowboy Museum and donations may be sent in care of Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home, PO Box 366, Gordon, NE 69343.