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By Henry (Hank) Ottinger, class of ’59… Following John’s death on July 1, 2014, I was in touch with John’s remaining family: wife, Peggy, in Madison, WI, and brother, Hank, in Columbia, MO. After speaking with Peggy on or about that day, I had a followup email from brother, Hank:
You probably don’t remember me very well, but I meant to write to you—indeed, call you when John passed. By now, obviously, you know that, and I thought I’d paste in something I sent out to friends.
I know you and John had a lot of exchanges over the years, some no doubt recalling your Staples days (and shenanigans). Is there a way you can pass the word to a Staples site? I seem to recall John mentioning something about such a place.
Coincidentally, I thought of you when I was in Asheville last week visiting grandkids, and I should have looked you up. Next time we’re down there, I’ll do so.
July 5, 2014
[Attached earlier notice to friends:]
Sadly, but thankfully, my most excellent brother passed away this evening, four days short of his 77th birthday, after a valiant, 25-year fight with lung disease. I want to thank all of you for your thoughts and wishes over the past few months. That he lived as long as he did is a tribute not only to a strong heart, but to his faithful, caring wife who was with him when he passed.
An obituary that John and I kicked back and forth in recent months follows, but it, of course, doesn’t begin to capture the loss I (and others) feel. John and I shared a batch of interests: late-night calls discussing books, films, politics, old girl friends, reminiscences of some of our crazier adventures, and much more—all will be sorely missed. To have a loving, listening, caring, occasionally wiseacre brother is a treasure of profound happiness and value.
As he, a lover of T.S. Eliot’s poetry would have said, “Not fare well, but fare forward…”
And brother Hank’s first draft of John’s obituary:
John C. Ottinger, 76 of Madison, died July 1, 2014, after living successfully for many years with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Born on July 5, 1937, in New York City, the son of John C. and Dorothy (Fonda) Ottinger, he served in the US Army in Europe from 1955 to 1958.
He was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a BA in Journalism.
He was a dispatcher, with the Badger Cab Company from 1964-1978, the Madison Police Department from 1978-1988, and the Dane County 911 center from 1988-1998; in the latter two positions, winning numerous awards and honors.
He married Peggy Lison on Madeline Island, WI, on May 14,1995. After retirement they traveled extensively in their motor home in the US and Canada. He enjoyed canoeing and wilderness travel, genealogy, and music.
John was known as an irrepressible storyteller, a master of antics with semantics who could render a groaner from the most pedestrian conversation.
No stranger to the outdoors, he trod sections of the Ice Age trail, backpacked and paddled in the Ozarks and in North Carolina, and delighted in planning and leading canoeing expeditions to remote Canadian waters.
Before the onset of COPD, John jogged, played tennis, and held his own on the squash court.
He enjoyed assisting Peggy develop her glorious gardens as well as helping plant and harvest seasons of vegetables in their Eagle Heights Garden plot.
He played traditional Irish music on the accordion and classical music on the piano.
A lifelong liberal, John volunteered for any number of local and national political campaigns.
He was a volunteer with RSVP in Madison.
For the past several years, he kept a web site and message board for persons with COPD and other lung diseases.
He is survived by his wife, Peggy Lison of Madison, and a brother, Hank Ottinger, of Columbia, Mo.