Otis Lael passed away in August of 2005.

He is survived by his loving wife Shirley.


Otis wrote his own Obituary as follows...


OTIS LAEL - 1929-2005 -

   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 Sergeant for the last seven years. ..While in the military service, J 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, eleven years with the JC Penney Co., retiring as maintenance supervisor, and twenty years part time at the Pine River County Club doing grounds maintenance Ė (gopher and flower man). I have been involved in making fish spearing decoys for about 35 years. The National Fish Decoy Assn. saw 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 Sergeants Assn, the Minnesota Dark House Assn. and the National Fish Decoy Assn.

   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, MN.

Lillie lrene Bucckers, 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 State. 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 were held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 19 at Kline Funeral Home in Pine River. Otis Lael is buried in the Jenkins Cemetery.



Included here is a poem written by Thayne Johnson of Minneapolis, MN. The poem was written before Otis passed away, and Otis liked it.



Thank you for your charm and thank you for your wit,

Thank you for your fish decoys, all around my home they sit.

And when I gaze upon them, each and every day,

A little bit of Otis, chases my worries out the way.

And when Iím in my spear house,

and the big dumb slow fish comes in,

Iíll say, ďThis one's for OtisĒ,

and Iíll poke him in the chin.

And when the big dumb slow fish,

is fried up in my pan,

I will say a prayer for Otis,

Then Iíll eat him, in honor of the man.

Thayne Johnson

- February 2005 -


   Old St. Pete's got a frozen Lake staked out; it's a sure and certain bet. I want to take my spear with me, my license ain't expired yet.

excerpt from the Otis Lael poem entitled...

Decoy Maker's Lament