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Special Steamboat Lady to Celebrate 100th Birthday!

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Old 03-11-2013, 06:06 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: On the "Beautiful Ohio" at New Albany, Indiana, opposite Louisville, Kentucky
Posts: 2,078
Default Special Steamboat Lady to Celebrate 100th Birthday!

It isn't often on this board, or anywhere else, that one gets to send greetings to a friend on the occasion of their 100th birthday! But this is one of those rare times and it is my privilege and pleasure to say "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" to Mrs. Mary Ackerman Otte, who will celebrate her 100th natal day on Friday, March 15th at Quincy, Illinois.

Mrs. Otte, who is a "shirttail" cousin to the famed Streckfus family, began her river adventures in 1931 when she was hired as a secretary aboard the steamer CAPITOL. Later, when that boat ceased tramping the Upper Mississippi for the season and laid up, Mary transferred down south to the big sidewheeler J.S. De Luxe, where she served as secretary to Capt. Roy Streckfus and purser.

A five year river romance between Mary and Capt. Bill Otte, who was pilot on the CAPITOL resulted in marriage and they made their home at Quincy. Capt. Otte served aboard the Str. PRESIDENT and later was on towboats before his retirement in 1951. He passed away in 1986. For 20 years Mary served as secretary to the principal of Quincy High School. Like most river people who are "happy to give", she is always more than happy to "talk river" and to share her memories and memorabilia. She enjoys her longtime membership in the Midwest Riverboat Buffs and visiting with members at the meetings.

My column in this week's issue of The Waterways Journal pays tribute to Mrs. Otte, who I am proud to say has been a treasured friend for many years. Here's a resounding whistle salute in admiration and thanks for her kindness and friendship. HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY MRS. OTTE!

(1) Mrs. Mary Otte in her apartment with Michael Blaser's art, "The Blues of St. Louis" featuring the steamers CAPITOL and J.S. DE LUXE at St. Louis. Photo by Judy Patsch - 2003.
(2) Mary and Capt. Bill Carroll (longtime master of the Str. ADMIRAL) aboard the M/V TOM SAWYER at St. Louis - 1998 - Photo by Keith N.
(3) Taken in 1933 at New Orleans aboard the Str. CAPITOL, Mary and her friend Shirley Wellnitz (later Shirley Streckfus) pose at the railing with the ferry to Algiers making a crossing in the background.
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