Saturday, June 19, 2010


(We were saddened to learn of the death of  Dr. John Otts, our principal at CHS. I believe most of us will agree that the public education system will not see a leader like him for at least 100 years. Perhaps never. Please feel free to add your comments about the man. I'll start the discussion.  -Ed)

He was Mister us. We didn't have to wait until he earned his academic Doctor title to know that this man was a leader. A very special leader.

I never heard him raise his voice, although we knew he was mad as Hell at us for that "wrecked car" that was parked right across the street from the school...that some of the boys couldn't resist from adding even more destruction. Who can forget the day we were all called into the auditorium and interrogated.

I'll never forget the time I tried to move the marble bench right outside his office in order to tape an election poster to the wall....and the bench fell and broke in half.

When he heard the noise....he came out of his office to see what was going on....and all he said was, "Well, there goes $50." And went back into his office.

Then there was the time that one of the DJ's at WGIV became ill...and the station asked if I could leave class early and come fill in. Mr.Otts approved my leaving school early, excusing me for the rest of the day.

At the final assembly in 1953 he told the school that the 1953 graduating class was the finest that he had ever had.

I was hoping that a year later he would say the same thing about the class of 1954.
But he didn't.

That's the only time I ever disagreed with him.  -Ed

Warren Sparrow writes:

"He was a bright man and down-to-earth. He got me to stop chewing my nails. I never realized what a significant role he played in my life until years after I graduated from Central. He was the one who said at graduation that no subsequent graduation (college, etc.) would be as meaningful as the one from Central High. Having been to two subsequent ones, I know he was right."  -W. W. Sparrow

Betty Rose Templeton Palomba

"I was not aware of all the things he was responsible for while at Central. I must have been on another planet. I must have really missed something.................although I did think he was a very nice principal." - Betty

John Merritt:

"I thought highly of John Otts. I nearly caught his wrath one time, and glad I didn't test his patience. "They" say small kids can pick up on friction and disharmony and learn early to recognize signs of well being. I believe most of the bigger kids at Central read John's signs accurately and gave him his due attention and respect. Surely I do not know the details of his leaving the system, but I'm certain the system learned to regret his lack of promotion. I worked for three school principals, (two good ones) and none could match his judgement and composure." -John Merritt