July 3, 1926 – Oct 24, 2015
With great sadness we announce the passing of our father, Henry (Heinrich) Otto, on October 24, 2015, aged 89.
Henry was born in Dreihausen, Germany, the only child of Hermann and Christine Otto. He worked in his family’s stone quarry and stayed there after it was sold to a larger developer, but his real interests lay elsewhere: he was a part-time journalist and photographer for a local newspaper and pursued numerous hobbies that reflected his love of animals: raising sheep, bee-keeping, and caring for various birds. He married his wife Dorothea (also from Dreihausen) in 1962 and both of their daughters were born in Germany.
In 1975 he immigrated with his family to Ontario and so, at age 49, he started an entirely new life as a dairy farmer. With the help of friends and neighbours, along with a great deal of hard work and sheer tenacity, he built a successful Holstein dairy operation and thrived at being his own boss. A great blow came with the death of his wife in 1980, but through the support of friends, church, and his own perseverance, he was able to surmount even this tragedy and continued running the farm and taking care of his daughters.
In 1996, having retired, Henry moved to Salt Spring Island and quickly embraced the island and its community.
Henry was a man of many interests and passions and in his late years his great loves were raising fancy chickens and birds, making blackberry wine, and taking part in diverse SSI events. He stood out on an island known for its unique characters and Salt Springers will remember him well for his “Oh Henry!”chocolate bars and, above all, for his favourite slogan “Arms are for hugging”, both of which he distributed liberally to all who knew him (and to many who didn’t). Bringing a smile to another person’s face gave him joy in return and the world is a poorer place without him.
He leaves behind his two much-loved daughters Katharina of Salt Spring and Elisabeth (Craig Keller) of Boulder, CO, and one grand-daughter, Lucia, who miss him very much and hold him in their hearts.
His family would like to extend heartfelt thanks to his longtime family doctor, Dr. White, for the excellent care and genuine caring that he provided over many years, as well as to Dr. Barcan, who always brightened his day. A sincere thank you also goes to the staff at Lady Minto hospital for their kindness and comfort, particularly in his last week. Finally, deepest gratitude to the Salt Spring Island hospice volunteers who were with him in his final hours and helped ease his journey from this life into the next.
A memorial service to celebrate Henry Otto’s life will be held at the Salt Spring United Church on Dec. 12 at 2 p.m.