Harold Dorman Otley, 92, died on Feb. 15.
He was born on May 19, 1917, in Burns to Henry and Mary Otley.
Otley ranched with his family in Harney County for his entire life. He had two brothers, Howard and Charley. At the age of 11, he lived with his parents and brothers in Silvies Valley during the construction of the Burns-Seneca line. His mother was the crew’s cook, cooking for a crew of 30 men in a tent and his father was the contractor. The family ranched at Lawen until 1934, when they purchased a ranch in Drewsey; they lived and ranched there until 1944. The Drewsey ranch was sold and the family purchased the ranch in Diamond.
Otley worked as a mechanic in Juntura for several years and then he moved back to the ranch in 1948 joining his father, uncle and brothers in running the ranch. Upon the death of his father in 1976, the three brothers continued to run the ranch together until 1984 when the ranch was divided between the three.
He met his wife, Mary when she came to Burns to teach at the high school. They eloped and were married in Klamath Falls on Sept. 3, 1949. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last September.
Otley and his wife started to build their ranch, first building a house and all of the outbuildings. They worked with their son, Fred in developing the ranch. They raised Hereford cattle until 1993 when they began raising crossbreed cattle. Wanting to stay with “reds,” they chose to raise Red Angus cattle. The Red Angus Association awarded them the “Commercial Producer of the Year Award” in 2007 and the Beef Improvement Federation awarded them the “Commercial Producer Roll of Excellence” in 2008.
Otley continued to be very involved in ranch operations until the day he died. The day before he died, he was hanging gates with his son and on the day that he died, he made some adjustments to the feeder that his wife was using, before heading into Burns for his last trip to the store. It was at the grocery store where he suffered a heart attack and medical personnel could not revive him.
Otley was always inventing and re-engineering what he thought was bad design by high-paid engineers. If you asked him to do something it would get done, and it was usually all you asked for and then some. All who have been on the Otley ranch appreciate his “easy open, cable lever” that you will find on many of the barbed wire gates. At the end of your visit, you probably got a copy of one of his poems that he enjoyed writing in his latter years.
Otley was known as “Papa Boot” to all his grandkids and great-grandkids. He got his name because his first grandson, Henry, had two grandfathers and two great-grandfathers. Otley was named “Papa Boot” because of his cowboy boots.
Otley celebrated the birth of each of his grandkids. All spent time at the ranch working with Papa and Grandma. The grandkids have acquired his taste for graham crackers and half and half.
Otley served 24 years on the Harney County Budget Board, 35 years on the Harney Rural Electric Cooperative and served close to 40 years on various positions of the Harney County Fair. He was also the president of the Oregon Fairs Association, Harney County Fair Grand Marshal and was active on all issues affecting the cattle industry his entire life. He contributed time and money for many groups and efforts working to protect private property, personal freedom, water rights and other conservative causes. He was a long-term member of Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Water for Life.
Otley is survived by his wife, Mary; brother, Charley; daughter Sherry Stott and husband Doug of Terrebonne; sons, Harry and wife Mary from Corvallis and Fred and his wife Debbie from Diamond; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Howard.
LaFollette’s Chapel was in charge of the memorial services held Feb. 18. Reverend Jackson Cramer and William Cramer, Jr. officiated. Pallbearers were Glenn Harris, Johnny Sword, Zach Sword, Mike Fine, Jim Davis, Bryan Dunn, Donnie Sitz and Rich Jenkins. Honorary bearers were Fred Witzel, Bob Sitz, Ron Yee, Lindsay Slater, Tim Smith, Denny Jones, Bud Garland and Larry Dunn. An original song was sung by Levi Harris. Speakers were Dale White and Tim O’Crowley. The Relief Society provided lunch, which allowed a time of fellowship.
Contributions in Otley’s memory may be made to Crane High School Athletics, Harney County Fair, Oregon Cattleman’s Stewardship fund or any other worthy cause of one’s choice in care of LaFollette’s Chapel, P.O. Box 488, Burns, OR 97720.