I’m still finding my way around Nye and Esmeralda counties, trying to make sure I don’t miss anything, or at least catch up with news as quickly as possible.
That’s why I count on readers to let me know what’s going on, coming up or things I didn’t do so well.
Sometimes that takes place in person. Other times, it’s by phone, email, letter, and in today’s era, social media.
When the owners of the Mizpah Hotel announced on Facebook that Dean Otteson, 62, had passed away Oct. 26, my news-gathering training kicked into high gear.
I do not believe I had met Otteson, who died as the result of cancer. But in reading the announcement from Mizpah owners Fred and Nancy Cline, it was pretty clear this was one story I had better make a top priority.
“Dean Otteson is not just another guy who passed through our lives,” the Clines wrote. “He was a living pioneer, a man with his own mind, and his own set of high standards and integrity …the likes of which isn’t easy to find anymore.”
I pursued the obituary story, published in the Nov. 3 Times-Bonanza. In interviewing Otteson’s widow, Donna, I asked her if the Nov. 5 funeral would be open to the press (me) and she said yes.
So after checking with my editor, Arnold Knightly, I made plans to attend the service in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tonopah. (This not the kind of story you can catch up with after the fact.)
I later read that Otteson was known as the unofficial mayor of Tonopah, a high honor since the town doesn’t have one.
A crowd of at least 300 packed the church off Smoky Valley Road, vehicles parked up and down nearby streets.
All were on hand to pay respects to the man formally known as Nelson Dean Otteson. He was remembered as a giant of man, a great husband, father of three, grandfather of eight, an uncle and more.
“He went too young in his life, and we’re going to miss him,” nephew Robert Otteson told those in the church.
Dean Otteson was described as a world famous turquoise miner, an accomplished jockey earlier in his life, someone with a sense of humor who cared about others and a person people were drawn to by his spirit.
“He loved all children and made a difference in their lives,” Robert Otteson said. “He would go out of his way to make people feel good about themselves.”
A daughter, Sharie Jackowiak, spoke of Dean Otteson’s unwavering, unconditional love under any circumstance.
“He was a teacher by example,” she said.
“He was there at any moment we needed him, without question,” she also said. “He was there for people who needed a place to stay, to live, to get back on their feet, no matter how much time that took.”
Jackowiak said that she, her sister Billie Warren, and brother Justin Otteson “were truly blessed to have a dad like him.”
“I mean truly, truly blessed,” Jackowiak said. “He loved his family more than anything in this world.”
Jackowiak told mourners it was hard to tell them how amazing Dean Otteson was because they already knew.
“He was a man who expressed himself to the fullest, who wore his heart on his sleeve and made you laugh all of the time,” she said.
Dean and Donna Otteson’s marriage spanned 42 years.
“He loved my mom more than life itself,” Jackowiak said. “A marriage like theirs is nothing (like) we’ve seen anywhere else. True soulmates.”
Jackowiak said she got to spend some time with her dad alone and that he had some messages he wanted her to give.
Dean Otteson wanted his wife to know she would never be alone, Jackowiak said in relaying one message.
“Because together, you did life right and raised a family that would never let you fall. He said to tell my mom that he will wait to dance with you in heaven one day again. He loves you and thanks you for the best times of his life he could have ever asked for.”
He loved his family and friends so much, Jackowiak said.
“He really did not have to suffer in the end,” she told them. “That in itself was great.”
“We are missing you dad so terribly already,” Jackowiak said. “But we promise that we will carry each other through this heartache and keep you in our hearts and memories forever.”
“Heaven’s got one of the best,” she added later. “And we will love you forever.”
A CLOSER LOOK
■ See the Facebook page of the Tonopah Times-Bonanza & Goldfield News for a look at the many condolences expressed by readers.
Contact reporter David Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org