Cover photo for James  "Jim"  Otstot's Obituary
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1922 James 2021

James "Jim" Otstot

June 7, 1922 — October 13, 2021

James (Jim) Otstot, 99, passed away October 13, 2021, at Messiah Village, Mechanicsburg. He is survived by his beloved wife of 76 years, Mildred (Millie) Otstot. Born in 1922 in Carlisle, Jim was the son of the late Harry and Eva Otstot.

After Jim graduated from the vocational woodworking program at Carlisle High School in 1940, he began working as a carpenter. When the United States entered World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and served from 1942 to 1945, much of the time on the repair ship, the USS Vulcan, in the Mediterranean and the Pacific. On the ship he met Harry Pace, who became a life-long friend.

After the war Jim began working at the Carlisle Tire & Rubber Company as a millwright. At night he studied mechanical engineering by correspondence, mastering calculus, physics, and chemistry. In 1967, he passed the State Professional Engineering Exam. At CT&R he progressed from draftsman to project engineer to Plant Engineer and finally to Director of Engineering. During these years, he was awarded 9 patents with the U.S. Patent Office. Jim was proud that his granddaughter Stephanie followed in his footsteps, becoming a mechanical engineer.

Jim believed in serving his community. He assumed leadership roles in many Carlisle organizations, including the Empire Hook and Ladder Company, the Chamber of Commerce, the Industrial Management Club, the YMCA, and Kiwanis. He also chaired the boards of three Christian churches and the Carlisle Council of Churches.

A man of many interests and remarkable gifts, Jim especially enjoyed woodworking and used his talent to create treasures for his family and his community. At the age of 12, he constructed a model stagecoach from wood and fabric that has become one of the family’s prized possessions. As a gift for Millie’s birthday in 1942, he carved a beautifully polished heart necklace on a wooden chain, all from one piece of cedar. For his daughters, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, he made personalized items with inlay and carving, including children’s toys and rocking chairs, commemorative plaques, jewelry boxes, and furniture.

Two of his wooden models are on display at the Cumberland County Historical Society in Carlisle. The first is a meticulously researched seven-by-three-foot model of the center of Carlisle in 1920, when passenger train tracks ran in the middle of High Street. To paint the 8000 windows on the miniature buildings, Jim used a paintbrush with three bristles and a very steady hand. His second model is of the Old Market House that stood on the southeast corner of the square for 85 years until it was demolished in 1952. Drawings and photographs in the CCHS collection helped Jim to reproduce the ornate brick work and carved wood trim at the roof line.

Through the years, Jim built over one hundred crosses, some tiny and two as tall as twelve feet for church sanctuaries. When the Brethren in Christ Church moved to Walnut Bottom Road, members of the congregation conducted a ceremonial walk from its old to its new site carrying the cross Jim constructed from the old pews.

His masterpiece of carving and inlay is a huge symbolic depiction of the Last Supper containing over 4000 pieces of wood inside the frame. After its completion, Jim gave inspirational talks, sharing the picture and its meaning with many religious groups. Now it is on display in the chapel area at Messiah Village.

Upon reaching his 90th birthday, Jim shared his memories with his family in a short memoir called “By the Grace of God.” In it he gives God credit for saving his life many times, especially during his youth and his Navy years, and for blessing him with good health and a loving family.

Jim is survived by his wife Millie of Messiah Village; daughter Bonnie Getty and son-in-law, Kenneth Getty Jr., of Virginia; daughter Pamela Scott of California; granddaughters Denise, Christine (and husband George), and Stephanie; and great grandchildren Grace and Henry. His grandson Spencer died in 2020 of Covid.

A private burial will be held for the immediate family. A memorial service will be held at a date to be announced later.

The family is requesting donations in Jim’s honor to the Endowment Fund for Benevolent Care, Messiah Lifeways at Messiah Village or the Messiah Village Church, both at 100 Mt. Allen Drive, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania 17055.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James "Jim" Otstot, please visit our flower store.


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