February 25, 2013

Gen. Otis, Plattsburgh native, remembered


---- — CARLISLE, Pa. — Plattsburgh native Gen. Glenn K. Otis, a 1953 West Point graduate and retired four-star general who received  a Silver Star, two Purple Hearts and the Distinguished Service Cross, died Thursday.

Otis, who was born in Plattsburgh in 1929, passed away in Carlisle, Pa., where he lived in recent years. He was 83.

“For 20 years, we kept crossing paths,” said Bill Manning, one of Otis’s friends. “We went to Airborne training at the same time, to Vietnam at the same time, Germany, Korea … we were always very close friends.”

In Vietnam, Otis distinguished himself during the Tet Offensive. In the 1980s, he served as the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Army in Europe.

While Otis and Manning were away with the military, Otis’s wife, Barbara Otis, and Manning’s wife, Nancy Manning, lived in Plattsburgh and would visit one another almost every day, Bill Manning said.

“He was the most humble human being on the earth,” Nancy Manning said.

Otis’s military career lasted 42 years, Barbara Otis said. She said this made it almost  as much her life as it was his.

“It was a very great life,” she said about traveling around the world with her husband. She said she went everywhere with him that she was allowed to go, excluding the times he was activated to Vietnam and Korea.

“Other than that, I was there,” she said.

One of the places the military took them was Germany for 12 years.

“It was a wonderful experience,” she said.

They spent 60 years together. She said it was her husband’s thoughtfulness that set him aside from the rest.

“He always put himself last,” she said.

The Otises and their children, Peter Otis, Caren Otis and Nancee Groh, spent summers in the North Country on Lake Champlain.

“His hometown is his roots,” Caren Otis said.

She said that when she was asked where her hometown was, it always felt right to say Plattsburgh.

Barbara Otis said they currently own a home on Route 9 near Ausable Point.

“Just being able to look at the lake was a great experience,” Barbara Otis said.

Bill Manning said he and Glenn Otis would reconnect up north where they grew up together by kayaking in the Adirondacks, fishing in Lake Champlain and golfing.

When it came to Otis’s separation of work and family, Caren Otis said he was consistent with his expectations, especially toward honesty.

“Bottom line: Dad was one of the few people I’ve met in my life where what you see is what you get,” Caren Otis said.

She said he was very humble about his accomplishments, which made it easy for people to talk to and relate to him.

“He just had a way about him. People wanted to stay in contact with him,” she said.

She said he was also humble about was his faith. While he believed strongly in his religion, he was also quiet about his faith and instead lead by example.

Bill Manning said that as Otis progressed in rank over the years, everyone continued to respect and admire him.

“He was a soldier’s soldier.”