Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Norman K. Ott Jr.

Norman Ott had long life of adventure, travel

ST. PETERSBURG — He was the picture of health. He swam. He worked out. He snacked on raw cabbage. On March 24, the Times ran a photo of Norman Ott, his wife, Ruth Ann, and a tennis coach demonstrating shoulder stretches.

Mr. Ott died the next day, March 25, of an apparent heart attack. He was 78.

"He was always the adventurous one," said his brother, Tom Ott, 77, who along with two sisters remained in their hometown of Allentown, Pa., their entire lives. Their brother, Norman, lived in Turkey, Vietnam and Cuba as well as in Africa and the Middle East.

As a member of the Underwater Demolition Team that pre-dated the Navy Seals, Mr. Ott taught the Mercury Seven astronauts to scuba dive.

He joined the CIA in 1962, the same year he married Ruth Ann. His family knew little about his work.

"He didn't tell us, and we didn't ask," his sister, Leanne Smith, 78, said after Mr. Ott's funeral service on Monday.

"And if we did ask, we would get kind of a sideways answer," said Jeanette Bender, 83, another sister.

In the late 1970s, Mr. Ott took his family to Istanbul. He pushed them off the couch and onto the basketball court, the ski slopes, or into the water. He led Boy Scouts in swims across the Bosporus Strait, from Europe to Asia. The current made the trip longer than a mile. Once, Mr. Ott and his daughter, Kathy, nearly got plowed under by a commercial fishing trawler.

He moved to St. Petersburg in 1989, and finished his career as CIA intelligence adviser to Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during Desert Storm.

In retirement, Mr. Ott took his granddaughter snorkeling in St. Thomas, organized trips with friends and started a tennis tournament for players over age 70.

His family remembers a quizzical smile, his lips in a diagonal line when he was about to weigh in with an opinion. They remember his rare indulgences: an addiction to Hershey's chocolate; a Key lime pie recipe they found only after his death, in his Rolodex.

A genial host, Mr. Ott struck up conversations easily. When guests had to leave, he walked them to their cars and waved at them from his driveway.

His own exit came quickly. After playing tennis, Mr. Ott phoned his wife from the Vinoy Renaissance Resort to say he would come home soon. His body was discovered in the resort's steam room.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at ameacham@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2248.

>>Biography

Norman K. Ott Jr.

Born: March 20, 1931.

Died: March 25, 2009.

Survivors: wife, Ruth Ann Ott; sons, Kurt (and wife Holly) and Kevin (and wife Beth) Ott; daughter, Kathy Ott; sisters, Leanne Smith and Jeanette Bender; brother, Tom Ott; and four granddaughters.

Norman Ott had long life of adventure, travel 04/01/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 10:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Man convicted of second-degree murder in killing of Baby Doe, his girlfriend's daughter

    Nation

    BOSTON — A man was convicted Monday of murder in the death of a 2-year-old girl who became known as Baby Doe after her remains washed up on the shore of a Boston Harbor island.

    Michael McCarthy’s friend Michael Sprinsky, far left, gets a hug from sister Laura Sprinsky after McCarthy is found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Bella Bond, who became known as Baby Doe.
  2. Rays make Hechavarria trade official

    Blogs

    Here is the release from the team ...

     

  3. Jones: Will Tampa Bay hit a Hall of Fame dry spell now?

    Lightning Strikes

    Marty St. Louis may lack the Hall of Fame stats, but two scoring titles, an MVP award and clutch goals should count for a lot. (Dirk Shadd, Times)
  4. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena

    Tourism

    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]
  5. Update: Scientology cancels planned mock FBI raid on downtown building

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology planned to film a mock FBI raid on a downtown building Monday afternoon, but the actors and cameras never showed up to the location disclosed to the city.

    According to Clearwater Police, the Church of Scientology plans to hold a mock FBI raid at 3 p.m. Monday at this vacant building at 305 N Fort Harrison Ave. Police announced the raid in advance to alert the public. They said they did not know the reason for the event. [Google Earch image]