Obit: Eugene “Gene” Otten, Barton

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    A pall will likely hang over Barton the next few days as word spreads Eugene “Gene” Otten has died.

     

    Otten was an institution in Barton. During his heyday Gene ran Otten’s Store, 1805 Barton Ave.  He picked up the business from his father, Anthony who passed away Sept. 10, 1980.

     

    Gene Otten was a God-fearing man and had a long history of helping his neighbors.

     

    “Gene has lived a long and fruitful life, not based on money, or material riches, but on the riches of a smile, for helping others,” said Steven Senior. 

     12239724_782453328543244_5196173145364221612_n                                                                                        (Photo courtesy of Darren Schacht)
    He gave so much to so many, when his friends were broke, just so they could have something to eat,” said Steven Senior. “You never seen a tombstone that read “I wish I would of spent more time at work” but in Gene’s case I am sure that many of his customers would of enjoyed his company at the store for a few more years.”

    Beth Biertzer recalled visiting Otten’s Food Market and how nothing was priced. “You’d go in for one item and end up carrying someone’s groceries to their car for them,” she wrote. 

    The most memorable items were the eggs, 3 dozen for $1 and Gene’s black ‘discount’ pen.
    For many neighbors in the community, Gene and his wife Susie were one in the same.  The couple met and married in their 20s. Susie died, May 20, 2009.
    Ricky Brockman wrote, “There are very few people in this world who are always more concerned with the welfare of others. Gene and Susie Otten have a special place reserved for them in heaven; they defined the good neighbor and always made sure the people of Barton were taken care of. I remember them telling my grandmother they would never raise her rent as long as she lived in Barton, and I delivered many groceries from Otten’s Store “on credit” which was Otten-speak for “don’t worry, we have you covered.” Anyone who lived in Barton between 1950 and 2000 owes Gene and Suzie Otten a huge debt of gratitude.”
    Sandy Gray Babington remembered the Ottens. “I grew up in Barton, and lived in the Apt. behind the Long Branch Saloon (in the late 70’s). I was just starting out, and the kindness shown to me by Susie and Gene was immeasurable. The store was a place of comfort. I don’t think I ever paid the full price for anything….I was so grateful. I think of them fondly. Every time I visit West Bend, and drive through Barton, I’m amazed at the changes, and the things that haven’t changed. I look for the store and am saddened that Ottens Store is no more. Mr. Otten and family, my prayers are with you.”

     

    Gene Otten died Saturday at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Funeral arrangements are pending.

     

     

    Photo courtesy Lynda Otten.

     

    12 COMMENTS

    1. God bless and Rest in Peace Gene.
      Our family will forever be grateful for the kindness you’ve showed us thru so many years. So many memories we’ll treasure. With our mother , Cora, being the Otten Store “delivery” lady, we will always have a special bond with your family. I think all of us can remember the layout of that infamous store. Such great memories…. remember the cold cut deli meat which they sliced , wrapped in paper & tied with string, the wax markers he used to mark down prices and the infamous paper
      7-up hat he wore daily.
      We’ll cherish these memories you helped create Gene. And in your famous last words when leaving your store….God bless now, see ya soon❤
      To Henry & Linda & families, we send our love & sympathies for your heavy hearts,
      “the Konens”

    2. This a sad day.
      My parents and I were just reminiscing yesterday about mr. Otten.
      Little did we know that was the day you would pass.
      Our condolences to the family

    3. Gene and his wife were a very special influence for our family when we were all neighbors (Barton). Their store, their personalities, their kindness, friendliness, and service to our family was always a priority, as to every family that entered their lives.

      Condolences and prayers being sent for the Otten family and friends. Gene will be missed!

    4. My family and I lived above the store in the 80’s he was a wonderful man. I and lot of people will miss a sole like gene. Sorry to all family and friends.

    5. My family shopped at Otten’s & got a black mark-down always on everything, & a hour talk of the town.
      Free candy for the kids.
      Always a kind word & a Blessing. . .
      A Hello Mr. – – – – & Your Lovely wife from
      Gene Otten

    6. We would like to send our sympathies to Linda, Henry, and families. I just seen uncle Eugene passed, and it saddens me to hear he’s gone. He was funny, and loving and I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with him. You will all be in our prayers.

    7. What great memories of Gene, I remember going into his store and him trying to get me to by eggs, great price today he would say and yes with his black markers also gives discounts on everything. He will truly be missed.

    8. Mr. Eugene Otten, a true Barton Icon. Growing up in Barton felt like a privilege to me as a young man. Barton was a family, Gene was like the father. I worked for Gene and Suzie stocking shelves, shaking rugs, delivering groceries and fetching his nightly drink from the Long. Branch. “Amen Brother” was very common to hear from Gene’s mouth a man who cared more about his friends and customers I’ve never met ! He marked down the price of every item purchased, always made me laugh thinking why he’d have me price as i stocked the shelves. Gene had a drawer with cards, every card in that drawer was a credit extended to his customers. Not only would he give out his groceries on credit he would have Cora deliver them for free. I know that man had a HEART of GOLD !!!All in fun but ud kids would stack the mik crates as high as we could behind the building then knock them over knowing Suzie would come out yelling at us damn kids. Jake , Mark or myself would have to restack them before we left work. I had the pleasure of growing up living next to one of the most incredibly caring man I’ve known. Gene spoke at my father Max Stone’s funeral, he spoke well of my father and declared him a man of service. I guess this is my chance to recognize and thank Mr. Eugene Otten for all he unknowingly taught me as a unruly teenager. Genie was truly a blessing and a man of service to all who were lucky enough to have known him. Thank you Mr. Otton for the memories brother may you walk the streets of gold nobody’s more deserving than you my friend ! R.I.P Gene til we meet again Jay Stone

    9. I grew up in Barton and spent a lot of time at Otten’s Food Market. I was lucky to sit next to Mr. Otten at the last BHS meeting. It was the first one I had ever attended. I enjoyed the meeting and realize now how very lucky I was that day. I’m not sure if he remembered me because it had been a long time. I left town at age 19 but he was entertaining to chat with. I will definitely be at his wake on Monday.

    10. I have many fond childhood memories of the store.. i grew uo around the corner on salisbury . One of My memories is the candy cabinet . I remember, the penny candy and also when the candy bars went to .15 cents.. however, my very favorite memory was when Mr Otten. would send me and my friend up to the liquor store to get his cigars.. in return, we would get to pick from the candy.. rip Mr Otten

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