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Obituary Stories

World War II Marine veteran was avid square dancer

Jacob Tierney
| Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, 11:00 p.m.
Merle H. Ottenberg Sr., 90, of Latrobe, died Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Excela Health Latrobe Hospital.
Merle H. Ottenberg Sr., 90, of Latrobe, died Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Excela Health Latrobe Hospital.

Merle Ottenberg was a quiet man, but he knew how to cut a rug.

He was an avid square dancer who would practice several times a week and travel the country for performances, always dressed in his best.

“My mom had her special square-dancing skirt, and my dad looked pretty dapper,” said his son, Merle Ottenberg Jr.

Merle H. Ottenberg Sr., 90, of Latrobe died Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, in Excela Health Latrobe Hospital.

He was born Aug. 26, 1927, in Latrobe, son of the late Albert and Mary Olive (Miller) Ottenberg.

He dropped out of high school to join the Marines during World War II. When he returned he went back to school to finish his education — and attended classes with Arnold Palmer.

He spent his entire career at Kennametal.

“He's from a generation that you don't see anymore; he started with Kennametal and he finished with Kennametal,” Merle Ottenberg Jr. said.

When he wasn't out with the Harrold's Western Squares dancing group, he could be found growing tomatoes in his garden, watching a Pirates game or reading his Bible.

“He was a man of his word, high integrity, honest, kind. He was a devout Christian, that's for sure,” his son said.

He enjoyed vacationing at Lake Erie and Gettysburg.

When he got older, he loved spending time with his six grandchildren.

His grandson Mark Ottenberg remembers bike rides, long walks and sleep-overs at his grandfather's house.

“That was always a highlight, as a younger kid. And as I got older, the time I liked to spend with him was listening to his stories,” he said.

Mr. Ottenberg would impart advice on the value of hard work, which Mark Ottenberg credits for his own success in life.

“That all stems from him, and our discussions that we used to have,” he said.

Mr. Ottenberg is survived by his wife of more than 70 years, Dolores (Ramsey) Ottenberg; sons Merle H Ottenberg Jr. and his wife, Marian, of Knoxville, Tenn.. and Kevin R. Ottenberg Sr., of Greensburg; six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Hartman-Graziano Funeral Home, 1500 Ligonier St., Latrobe. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in the funeral home chapel. Military honors accorded by the Latrobe-Derry Veterans Honor Guard will be held immediately following the service in the funeral home chapel.

Private interment will be in Unity Cemetery.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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