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Wilbert Frederick Ott Jr. (Fred) while surrounded by family, joined his loving Saviour on December 13, 2023, at age 96. Fred was born in the family home in Nashwauk, Minnesota, on March 15, 1927, to parents Bert and Florence Ott. Bert and Florence had four other children Joyce, Selma, Gerald & Charles. Bert owned the Pharmacy in Nashwauk and in 1937 bought Deer River’s pharmacy, Sampson and Ollerman Prescription Druggists. The family moved to Deer River and lived in the apartments directly behind Ott Drug Store until 1944 when they purchased their new home across from the old hospital. The family joined the Methodist church, where Fred remained a parishioner his entire life.
After graduation from Deer River High School in 1945 he was drafted by the US Marine Corps and went to Parris Island for boot camp and thereafter Camp Lejeune. Following an aptitude test he was chosen to study radio and radar repair. He served in Washington DC, Detroit & Chicago for several weeks before attaining the rank of Sergeant whereupon he moved to Camp Pendleton, California, and taught young marines this specialized electronics work.
After being discharged from the Marines in 1948 he received a GI bill and attended the University of Minnesota whereupon he graduated in pharmacy in 1952. Fred returned to Deer River to work for his father. He bought his first new car in 1953 for $2,350, the cancelled check for which is framed and still stands in the kitchen. On November 1, 1953, he married Vivian Evangeline Baumgarner, whom he had known from high school and who was, at the time, working as a telephone operator. They honeymooned in Niagara Falls, following which they lived in Deer River in Bahr’s apartments. In 1955 they started building their home on Deer Lake, where for many years, they enjoyed water skiing, gardening, hunting, fishing, ice skating and building igloos. They had 5 children Constance Diane, Corey Bergstrand, Sheila Florence, Frederick Wilbert and Robert Charles.
A poignant time occurred in Fred’s life in 1954 when he lost his mother, Florence, only 56 years old, to multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood plasma. He had the correct blood type for his mother and often spoke about giving her several blood transfusions while she was in hospital.
Fred worked as a pharmacist at Ott Drug Store his entire pharmacy career, ultimately purchasing it from his father. He continued working to age 91, long after he had sold the pharmacy to his son, Robert, in 1996. He adored his employees and would often open the store at night or late Sundays to assist patients with their prescription needs.
Fred was a stalwart member of the community. Starting at age 21 he joined the Chippewa Masonic Lodge #275 and was a lifelong member. In 1956 he joined the District 317 School Board and served until 1976. He was a member of the Deer River Lions Club, an Honorary member of the Shriners and served the Deer River Hospital board for many years. In the late sixties he learned how to fly a private plane and for some 15 years had his four-seater Cessna in the hanger at the Deer River airport, giving rides to anyone who asked. When the Blueberry Hills Golf Course opened in the 70’s and the Blueberry Bowl Bowling Alley opened in the 80’s, Fred eagerly took up both sports with Ott Drug sponsoring teams in both. Fred reached his pinnacle in golf in 2003, at age 76, when during league play, he achieved a hole in one on the second hole. Following retirement Fred remained very active by joining the YMCA and participated in their Silver Sneakers aerobics class three times a week up until his disease no longer allowed him to continue.
Preceded in death by his wife Vivian (Baumgarner) Ott, his son Corey Ott, his parents Wilbert Ott Sr. and Florence (Rydholm) Ott, and his sisters Joyce (Ott) Harwood and Selma Ott.
Survived by his brothers Charles Ott and Gerald Ott, children Constance (Ott) Carpenter, Sheila Ott, Frederick Ott and Robert Ott; five grandchildren Christina Carpenter, Russell Carpenter, Brent Ott, Brittany (Ott) Geisen, Brooke Ott, seven great grandchildren, six great-great grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to give thanks to Essentia Health Itasca Hospice for their support during the last four months.
Visitation Thursday December 21, 2023, from 5 pm to 7 pm at Carroll Funeral Home, Deer River, Minnesota.
Funeral Services Friday December 22, 2023, 11 am at United Methodist Church, Deer River, Minnesota.
Burial service with full military honors to follow at Pine Ridge Cemetery.