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Joan Averill Otte ’50

Born in Portland, Joan grew up in Jennings Lodge and Oregon City, Oregon. She attended Reed, before transferring to Oregon State University, where she earned a bachelor of science degree, followed by a bachelor of nursing degree from the University of Oregon Medical School. While at OSU, Joan met George Otte, and they were married in 1951. Their careers led them to The Dalles, Oregon, and Lanai City, Hawaii. Eventually they settled back in McMinnville, where they raised their three children. In 1976, Riitta, a Finnish exchange student, joined the family. The family moved to Casper, Wyoming, and when Joan and George retired, they returned to McMinnville, where they built their dream home.

A longtime member of the Junior Matrons and the American Association of University Women, Joan was active in her church, especially as a youth leader, and was also a Red Cross nurse and teacher, a Girl Scout camp and day camp nurse, and both a Girl Scout and Cub Scout leader. She loved camping, backpacking, and mountaineering, and as a member of the Mazamas mountaineering club climbed major peaks in Oregon and Washington. She loved sewing and tailored most of the family’s clothes as well as designing and sewing backpacking tents, down coats, sleeping bags, and a sail for a sailboat that George built. Following a 30-year career in nursing, Joan learned to weave on a floor loom and wove complicated sample cards for an international weaver. In 1975, Joan and George started second careers in the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Joan was twice elected commander of Flotilla 66. She taught member training and water safety classes for third and fifth graders. Summers were filled with regattas and safety patrols on rivers and lakes and offshore. She retired from the auxiliary after 42 years of dedicated service.

George passed away in 2000. Joan is survived by her children, Tom, Terry, and Nancy; her Finnish daughter, Riitta; and her brother, Jim.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2018

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