Charles “Chas” Roger Otto, WWII Navy veteran and longtime resident of Hillman, passed away peacefully at home among his loved ones, on November 19. He was 95.
Mr. Otto and his devoted wife Carol are the owners of Hillman’s Haven, a residential assisted living community. When Mr. Otto was in his late 70s, he built the center so Carol’s mom would have a wonderful place to peacefully and safely live. Mr. Otto was a problem-solver and always made sure those around him were taken care of.
Mr. Otto joined the service in 1943. During WWII, he was a Navy electrician, at sea without seeing land for more than two years. Mr. Otto told the story of how his small destroyer, the USS Callahan in Halsay’s fleet, was in the Pacific when a typhoon capsized three other destroyers protecting an aircraft carrier. He said only a surplus of fuel saved him and the sailors aboard.
Following WWII service, he worked for Detroit Edison for more than 40 years as a substation operator. He was a stickler about leaving lights on. He would go around the house, counting as he turned them off.
Mr. Otto had two careers at the same time his entire working life. He also ran his construction company, Charles Otto Builders in Harrison Township. His small apartments, shopping centers and nursing homes stand strong from Wyandotte, to Mt. Clemens to New Baltimore.
For many years, Mr. Otto lived in Mt. Clemens along the Clinton River with his late wife Myrtle who passed away in 1986 and their children, boating in the summer, skiing in the winter.
After he retired, he moved north, found a beautiful life with his wife of 20 years, Carol. They traveled a lot and loved spending time with family and friends. Golfing became their passion as members of Thunder Bay Golf Resort. He and Carol enjoyed it immensely – he golfed until he was 93.
Mr. Otto was unapologetically proud of his children and step children. He loved his grandchildren and his great and great, great grandchildren. His family will forever remember him as a provider and the man who opened the world to them.
Mr. Otto skied into his 80s and golfed into his 90s. He would still be cleaning gutters to this day if his family would let him. Slowing down was not his preference, but he did so with the dignity he so earned.
There will be a celebration of life in the Spring.
Survived by his wife Carol, children Janet Johnson (Ron) of California, Chuck Otto of Grand Rapids, Joel Otto (Debbie Gawel) of Atlanta, Katy Knowles (David) of Petoskey, Laura Varon Brown (Jeff) of Bloomfield Township. Stepchildren, Curt Tebo (Shawn) of Reed City, Andy Tebo (Brandy) of Florida and Lisa Barrie (Shawn) of Hillman; Grandchildren, Lisa , Stephen, Phillip, Joseph, Dave, Eric, Sam, Jacob, Molly, Emma, Chad, Heather, Cody, Jessica, Arielle and Wyatt. Eight great grandchildren and one great, great grandchild. He also loved daughter-in-laws, Wendy Otto and Ruth Anne Southgate Otto. He is predeceased by his sister Delores Wosik and parents, Laura and Charles Otto.
If you would like to honor Mr. Otto’s memory, you can do so by making a tribute to Compassus Hospice, Project Yoga, www.projectyogacincinnati.org, Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit, www.gildasclubdetroit.org or a charity of your choice.