Otha L. Grisham, self-described “tired newspaperman, retired Marine,” passed away Jan. 28, 2021, at age 97.
Otha was born to Lee Roy and Velma (Pritchard) Grisham on Sept. 21, 1923 near Moran, Texas, the oldest of four siblings. Although his father died when Otha was 11 and he grew up during the Great Depression, Otha lived a full and rich life, influenced by his close-knit family and many, many friends. Otha grew up with a sense of humor in a family who had fond nicknames for everyone. Storytelling came naturally and here is Otha’s:
Otha graduated from Moran High School in 1940 and from Southwest Texas State Teachers College in 1943. He met the love of his life, Doris Muelker, at college in San Marcos and they were married in 1944, just before Otha departed for 19 months of Marine Corps service in the wartime Pacific. He and Doris were true partners in business, parenthood, and life together, for 71 years.
Otha served as an officer with the Marines during the invasion and capture of Peleliu Island. He was aboard a landing ship which was attacked by a Japanese kamikaze aircraft, and his unit was instrumental in the invasion of Okinawa, the last great battle of the Pacific War. Otha told many war stories, including one about winning a “de-commissioned” Jeep in a poker game. Alas, the Jeep had to be left behind when the battalion shipped out to its next deployment. During the war, Otha discovered many lifelong friendships and a steadfast (and also lifelong) aversion to canned pears.
Otha served in the Marine Corps Reserve for 25 years, retiring as a colonel in 1976.
After the war, Otha returned to San Marcos and spent one year teaching high school. He sometimes claimed the happiest day of his life was the last day of school of that year! He promptly “retired” from that job and began a career as a newspaperman, serving as a cub reporter for the San Antonio Light and then as news editor of the San Marcos Record for four years.
Otha and Doris moved to Seguin in 1951 when he joined the late Garfield Kiel in ownership and management of the Seguin Enterprise. This began a long and distinguished career and heavy involvement in the Seguin community. Years after retiring he often said, “I’m still tired from the MANY meetings I had to attend!”
Among his many civic and professional accomplishments, Otha served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, president of the SWTSU Alumni Association, organizer and chairman of the first Seguin Housing Authority board, member of Seguin Rotary Club and active layman at First United Methodist Church.
After selling the Enterprise in 1977, he worked in sales and served two years as emergency management coordinator for the City of Seguin and Guadalupe County. He and Doris then fully embraced retirement. Otha was an avid reader and collected more than 200 books on the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy. He spent many hours playing golf and watching sports, especially the Texas Longhorns and Dallas Cowboys. He and Doris especially enjoyed traveling and reconnecting with old friends at high school and Marine Corps reunions.
Otha and Doris were most proud of rearing their four children. They ran numerous carpools and attended many school and extracurricular activities over the years. Later, they spent many days doting on their grandchildren and great-grands. “Grandpa” was notorious for treating them to Blizzards at Dairy Queen.
Otha said the best advice he received was from his maternal grandfather to “Always work hard.” He and Doris lovingly instilled this in their children and grandchildren. They set a high bar with their examples of honesty, integrity, and kindness. But along with hard work, laughter was and still remains ever-present in the extended Grisham households.
Otha is preceded in death by his parents, his wife, his son, Stephen, and his brother, Byron Grisham, his parents-in-law Louis and Alice Muelker, and four of Doris’ siblings: Vernon, Bobbie, Bill and Gay Nell.
He is survived by his daughters, Laura (Jimmy) Stutzman; Susan (Bob) Archenhold; Martha (Joe) Cantu; daughter-in-law Doris Grisham; grandchildren Sondra (Gay Nottingham) Grisham; Elise (William Keith) McGinnis; Monica (Robbie) Willhelm; Shannon (Curtis) Emerson; Alice Wesson; Andrea, Marissa and Paul Cantu; and great-grandchildren Olivia Wells and Brayden Willhelm. He is also survived by his sisters, Jane Claybourn and Winnie (Clyde) Greer; sisters-in-law JoAnne Muelker and Faye Introcaso and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family thanks Otha’s most recent team of loving caregivers: Nancy G., Maria and Rey O., Maggie R. and Nancy D., as well as those who cared for him previously. Sincere thanks also to the caring staff of Guadalupe Regional Hospice.
And now Otha’s life of love and work is done. In newspaper parlance, the story has ended, -30-
Due to the COVID pandemic and current safety concerns, no service is planned at this time. Contributions can be made to Guadalupe Regional Hospice, 1331 E. Court St., Seguin, TX 78155; First United Methodist Church, 704 N. Austin St., Seguin, TX 78155; or National Museum of the Pacific War, 311 E. Austin St., Fredericksburg, TX 78623.
Services are under the direction of Goetz Funeral Home located at 713 N. Austin Street, Seguin, Texas 78155. 830-379-2313
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