John H. Otis discovered the joy of Heaven on Tuesday evening, July 24. He was 83 years old. John was born at home just north of Gretna, Kan., in the midst of a raging blizzard on March 14, 1924 to John Davies Otis and Sophia Leora (Hoppe) Otis.
While yet a small tot, John moved with his parents and older siblings, Mildred and Fred, just a few miles northeast of Gretna to a farm just up the road from the United Brethren Church, which his father had helped build.
John attended school in a one-room schoolhouse. He attended Agra High School and graduated in May of 1941. He attended Fort Hays College in the fall of 1941. While a student there, he worked at a bakery where he mastered the art of baking.
John joined the United States Navy in 1942. He trained in the Naval Air Corp. He loved being a pilot and enjoyed the excitement of landing his aircraft onto a carrier. He decided to enter the regular Navy and was stationed in DeLand, Fla., where he met his wife, Gretchelle Eloise Schropshier. The couple was married on March 15, 1945. Upon his discharge in 1946, the couple began married life on a farm they rented north of his parents' home on the Plum Creek Road.
While John worked the farm, Gretchelle took care of their growing family, John J., David, Lynn, and Dara.
Following his doctor's recommendations, John ceased farming and became employed by the Phillipsburg Co-op in the fall of 1953. John was employed by Farmland Industries until he retired in 1986.
John led his children to discover the wonders of the sky when he brought home a telescope.
He was a member of the American Legion for 50 years. John also served as an officer of the local Lions Club and as president of the Agra PTA.
Upon retirement, John and Gretchelle returned to Agra. They enjoyed many years of retirement together going to garage sales, putting together jigsaw puzzles, and visits from their family.
John lost his beloved wife, Gretchelle, on March 27, 2007. They had been married 62 years. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Sophia Otis, his sister, Mildred, and his brother, Fred. John is survived by his children and their spouses: John J. Otis, Kinsley, Kan.; David and Gayle Otis, Ulysses, Kan.; Lynn Rowe, Tampa, Fla.; Dara and Roger Leaming, Fort Scott, Kan.; and Paul and Vicki Otis, Flemington, N.J. He is also survived by his nine grandchildren, one step grandson, nine great grandchildren, one step great grandchild, and one step great great grandchild, as well as cousins and nieces and nephews.
John was buried in the Agra Cemetery with military honors on Gretchelle's birthday, July 28, 2007.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to The Kansas Society for Crippled Children, 106 W. Douglas, Suite 900, Wichita, KS 67202.
Source: Phillips County Review, August 1, 2007.