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Doris Mae (Megenthal) Otterson

September 21, 1936 ~ June 3, 2018 (age 81)


Doris Mae Mergenthal was born September 21, 1936 in Hillsboro, ND, the daughter of Arthur and Bertha (Benting) Mergenthal. She was six weeks premature, weighed five pounds, and before her feet could reach the pedals, she drove a grain truck on the family farm, with the aid of wooden blocks.  She graduated from high school at fifteen and went to Concordia College Moorhead, MN, at sixteen. At eighteen, she began teaching elementary school in Mayville, ND, and then Circle Pines, MN.

In Circle Pines, Dori met Ronald Otterson, and they married on August 20, 1960. The couple moved to Janesville, WI for one year, where Dori taught again, in nearby Beloit, WI. The couple returned to Minnesota, and she taught at Lake Phalen School in St. Paul. Ron completed his seminary work and accepted a call to Littlefork, MN, where Dori taught Kindergarten, First and Second grade.

 In 1971 Ron and Dori moved their family to Alexandria, MN, where Dori taught at Lincoln, Central and Discovery Schools, specializing in hearing impaired and special education students.  While teaching and raising four children, she continued her education, earning a master’s degree in special education from Moorhead State University in 1982.  In 1998, she retired.

Dori was an enthusiastic member of the community.  She wrote a weekly newspaper column for the Douglas County Historical Society and was a leader in the League of Women Voters. She loved art.  She fired pottery and painted prolifically in oil and water color.  She was a member and leader in the Brush and Palette Club. Dori was also an avid reader; she joined several book clubs, devoured books quickly and passed them on to her children with a wink, as “presents.”

Traveling was also important to her. She loved the outdoors and travelled with her family across the United States, always learning about and seeing new things. Dori devoted a great deal of her time to serving her church. She taught Sunday school, Vacation Bible School and served at least one term on virtually every committee the church had at one time or another.

Dori was a very giving person and had a great sense of humor. Her greatest assets were her ability to learn and communicate. She and Ron attended Effective Communication Training in San Diego in 1971. She became an instructor of the course to help others communicate better. Dori wrote for the Echo Press; she conducted many interviews and shared the information about people with her readers. Visiting with people and taking a real interest in them was something she loved. Being able to take herself to the same level as a child, and comfortably communicate well, was a big part of Dori’s success in life.

On Sunday June 3, 2018 Dori died at the age of eighty-one years. She was preceded in death by her parents and one brother, Don Mergenthal. Dori is survived by her husband, Reverend Ron Otterson of Alexandria; her daughters, Julie Etterson and husband, Matt, of Duluth, MN and Kristi Otterson and wife, Mary Loso, of Minneapolis; sons, Scott Otterson of Kassel, Germany and Nathan Otterson of New York City, NY; grandchildren, Abigail Etterson and Zachary Etterson; and one sister-in-law, Linda Shuffler of Kingman, AZ.

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