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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Honoring a lifetime by remembering a community

  • Charles "Val" Otis was born in St. Louis but lived most of his life in Rolla.
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  • Charles "Val" Otis was born in St. Louis but lived most of his life in Rolla.
    His family recently gathered at his home to go through his possessions and remember their patriarch, who led a very full and colorful life. They were also there to help load up a truck from The Community Partnership Resale Shop, where his furniture and household items were donated.
    "We wanted to give the Partnership's Resale Shop the furniture and household items so other people would get some use out of them," said Otis' daughter, Valerie Boldrey. "We know how much The Community Partnership does for people in the area, and we knew donating all of this was the right thing to do."
    "Our family has always been community-minded," added Otis' daughter-in-law, Debbie Otis. "We thought this would be a way to help, and my father-in-law would have approved."
    Val Otis was known around Rolla for many things, including his inventive mind, his solid business practices, his love for motorcycles and flying.
    "One time he ordered an Army surplus Indian motorcycle," said Debbie Otis. "He had someone give him a ride to St. Louis when it came in, and he opened the crate and assembled it right there on the spot, and rode it home."
    His love for flying was something he wanted to share with others.
    "He taught over 300 students how to fly," said Boldrey. "He personally logged over 7,000 hours of flight, and he could fly just about anything."
    One of his students, retired ophthalmologist Dr. Gary Green, was at the house that day, looking over old flight logs and remembering his friend.
    "I learned to fly with Val over 15 years ago," said Green. "He taught my daughter to fly, too."
    A 1943 Rolla High School graduate, Otis also loved to build tractors.
    "He built miniature and full-size tractors," said Boldrey. "He could build just about anything."
    Many people remember Otis from the business he co-owned, Otis Brothers Garage, in Northwye.
    "He had a towing service with the business, so just about everybody around here was towed by him at one time or another," said his daughter-in-law, Debbie.
    Many years ago, Otis and his friend, Dr. Virgil Flanigan from University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology) went to China to build a device that would melt materials to convert to fuel.
    "He was one smart man," said Boldrey. "Dr. Flanigan had the brains and Dad had the logic."
    Otis was the father of four, including Boldrey, sons Daniel Otis and Rusty Otis, and another daughter, Anne Otis, who passed away in 1994. Otis left behind seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
    "We all had nicknames," said Boldrey," but I don't think he called any of us by our real names."
    Page 2 of 2 - As The Community Partnership Resale Shop truck was being loaded with furniture, household items, and memories, Partnership Development Director Mark Long expressed gratitude for the donation from Val Otis' family.
    "We're so thankful that his family chose to donate his things to the Partnership Resale Shop," he said. "These items will be sold, and they will be used by others. When we sell things at the Resale Shop, that money goes right back into our programs at the Partnership, and it helps people in the community."
    Long said that some people don't realize that The Community Partnership is actually a non-profit organization with programs that help families with children with disabilities, pregnant and parenting young people, youth aging out of foster care, and child care providers who are working on accreditation.
    "We also have our Linking Hearts Adoption Fair each September," he explained. "Our main office is located at 1101 Hauck Drive in Rolla, and the Resale Shop on North Bishop in Rolla is an arm of that organization."
    For more information about donating to The Community Partnership Resale Shop, or to schedule a pickup, call 573-426-5923. To learn more about The Community Partnership, find the organization on Facebook or at www.thecommunitypartnership.org. The Partnership is also on Twitter — @yourpartnership.

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