Frederick F. Otto
Fred and Janet Otto, who were married for 64 years, pose for this recent photo. (Submitted photo)
Frederick "Fred" Otto valued education at any age.
The 1942 Boonsboro High School Class of 1942 valedictorian began his career as a teacher at Hancock High School, then moved to Smithsburg High School. His father had been a teacher and his daughter became a teacher.
Then for 29 years, Fred served as registrar, director of admissions and dean of continuing education at Hagerstown Junior College, now Hagerstown Community College.
When others would be settling into retirement, Fred took the "interim" position of executive director for the Washington County Commission on Aging, which lasted 15 years. He officially retired in 2004 at age 80.
Fred's two children, Steve Otto of Sea Girt, N.J., and Janine Nichols of Dover, Del., said their father stressed education, all the while making sure they were exposed to culture and opportunities, whether it was dance classes at the Women's Club or theater performances and dinner in Washington, D.C.
"He made sure we got a taste of culture," Janine said.
Steve admitted that he disliked the dance lessons at the time, but now is grateful for the opportunity.
He said while he was growing up, his father rarely was home because of his busy schedule, but he realized his father was working for the family's benefit.
"Dad was pretty selfless and very giving," Steve said.
Steve said that when his father was at HJC, he would come home from work, take a 10-minute nap, have dinner with the family, then head back to check on evening classes at the college.
"Family is the most important thing," Steve said. "We always ate together."
When Fred was working on his Ph.D. at George Washington University, he never took time off from his full-time job, although he was commuting to the D.C. campus two to three times a week, Steve said.
Janine, who is 10 years younger, said Fred was around more during her childhood.
"He was a wonderful man," she said. "I loved him dearly. He gave us so much. To me, he was always a great mentor and role model."
Fred's community involvement was notable — from Community Rescue Service to the Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross to the Exchange Club and more.
"Dad just wanted to be a big part of the community," Janine said. "Dad was a people person."
Fred met Janet Reeder of Middletown, Md., when they both worked briefly at Fairchild Industries. They were married 64 years and in addition to their two children, had two grandchildren, Janine's children.
"His grandchildren were very special to him," Janine said.