National Fish Decoy Association




6:10 PM on Thursday, August 18, 2005
Otis Lael
1929-2005 - Pine River
I am Otis Wesley Lael, born July 21, 1929 at Almira, Washington. My parents, both deceased, were Jacob Daniel Lael and Corda Eudorah Purtee. It is unusual that the deceased writes his own obituary, but I am doing so and I approve this message. I grew up on a sheep ranch in the state of Washington and left there to join the Army (Infantry branch) in 1946.

I served three years in the Army and then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, where I spent sufficient time to retire from the combined services in 1967. During my Air Force career, I was an administrative man and rose to be an Air Force First Sgt. for the last seven years. While in the military service, I served in Korea, Wyoming, Morocco, California, Newfoundland, Georgia and North Dakota. My civilian employment included being foreman at a wholesale nursery, Bailey's, in the South St. Paul area, 11 years with the JC Penney Co., retiring as maintenance supervisor, and 20 years part time at the Pine River Country Club doing grounds maintenance - gopher and flower man. I have been involved in making fish spearing decoys for about 35 years. The National Fish Decoy Association has seen fit to award me the Living Legend Award in 2001 and Folk Art Carver of the Year in 2003. I have recently completed what I believe to be the world's biggest fish decoy at 8-ft. long (if not the biggest, close to it!) I am a lifetime member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, the Air Force Sgts. Assoc., the MN Dark House Assoc., and the National Fish Decoy Assoc.

During my Air Force career I met and married Mary Elizabeth Keating of New York, who was also in the Air Force. Of this marriage, six children were born in the following order: James Daniel Lael, a retired Army First Sgt. from Clarksville, TN, Michael Westley Lael, a retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. From Rio Rancho, NM, Ellen Marie Bristow of Pine River, married to a local farmer, Conrad, John Charles Lael of Pine River, a power company lineman and farmer, Patricia Ann Evermann of Spicer, and Lillie Irene Bueckers, a registered nurse who lives in Hudson, WI. After the death of my first wife, I married Lois Jean Esry who had two daughters, Jaquie and Jeannette. Lois died and the girls went to points unknown. I then married Shirley Irene Bay, who had one daughter, Teresa Seibold, who lives in Blue Springs, MO with her family.

Along with my wife, Shirley, and my children, I am survived by 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. I have two surviving sisters, Wanna Lee Bartol and Donna Sly, both of the Spokane, WA area, and three brothers, John Daniel (Jack), Grady E. (Skip) and Larry E. Lael, all of Washington. Two grandchildren, Kathleen Bristow and Wade Bristow, preceded me in death.

I believe that funerals should be a happy time, so cheer up, laugh and enjoy. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Services will be 11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 19 at Kline Funeral Home in Pine River. Burial will follow at the Jenkins Cemetery. Friends may call Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. and one hour prior to the service.

Arrangements are with Kline Funeral Home, Pine River.

Lake Country Echo / Pine River Journal

Otis  began making fish spearing decoys in the early sixties for his son and friends to use. He didn't carve from that time until the early seventies when his sisters in Washington State encouraged him to make some decoys and other folk-art pieces. Otis carved purely from imagination and did not try to emulate certain fish species. His carvings were primitive with a good dose of whimsical humor usually present. He also made other interesting folk art carvings including pull toys, Santas, birds, frogs, and other imaginative critters.

     He regularly attended local carving shows, and the "Gathering" each year in Perham Minnesota.

Learn more about Otis at

Click here to visit the official Otis Lael Website

Otis, you will always be remembered.

Home Up John Jensen Otis Lael Doug Davis

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 Last modified: 11/16/14
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