Larry Otos remembered

June 27th, 2018 by Ken

The death of Larry Otos last week brought back memories for me of the adventures he took me on.

Larry was the first director of the Thurston County parks and recreation department.  Hired in the mid 70’s, Larry was a visionary who saw how important parks and park land would become in the future.   Under his leadership Thurston County obtained a number of parks including Burfoot and Frye Cove.  Long Lake park was later turned over to  the City of Lacey.

But, it was Straddleline Park on the border of Thurston County and Grays Harbor counties which gave Larry the most trouble.  Thurston County purchased the private park  and renamed it  Thurston Grays Harbor ORV sports park.  The park was used for motorcycle racing, four-wheeling and recreational vehicles.  Larry drew a lot of criticism for allowing motorized sports in the Capitol Forest but his answer was four wheelers are our citizens as well and need a place in which they too can have fun.

Larry used to take community leaders on canoe trips on local rivers.  I was lucky to take two trips with him.  On the first we canoed down the Black River to the Chehalis River and then on to Elma.  To see how wild the Black River was amazed me and still sticks with me today.   The second trip was on the Satsop.  We started with three canoes, lost one on the rocks and in two overloaded canoes carried on wet and cold.  May weather with sleet and hail almost did us in with hypothermia.  But, It was a great adventure and just what Larry wanted community leaders to do.  Appreciate nature in all of its activities.

Larry later went on to other adventures in California.  During the recession of 08-09 the parks director’s position in Thurston County was eliminated.  But Larry’s impact on Thurston County remains.

Posted in The Real News

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