The Otto Arndt Story

This complete biography of Otto Arndt and his family was submitted to us by Donna Oliver, his daughter, 2016. Donna gave us the huge cache of aerial photos and negatives of Garden Home and Washington County towns that her father, Otto, had taken between the late 1940s and early 1980s. Otto and Mary Arndt and their four children moved to Garden Home in 1953 and remained here for the next 20 years. This story is included in its entirety which gives us insight to the stories of many other families, the variety of jobs, the many moves, the schooling, the gardens, the animals, the marriages. Thank you to Donna for the inspirational detail that you’ve included. I have done the underlining.

Otto Ernest Arndt, was born in Coeur d’ Alene Idaho on Apr.10, 1915. His father, Otto Emil Arndt, born Apr.1, 1874, immigrated in1884 from Poznan, Germany (now part of Poland) to the United States of America with his parents Christof and Wilhelmine Arndt, and five of his six brothers, when he was 10 years old. (He observed his 10th birthday during the 30 day crossing of the Atlantic on a sailing vessel.) His family first settled in Raleigh, Illinois. Two of his siblings died in Germany before they immigrated to the USA. Two sisters were born in Raleigh, Illinois, but died in infancy. He had one more brother, the youngest of all 11 children, who was born in Raleigh, Illinois, and survived.

The father, Otto Emil Arndt attended business school in Quincy, Illinois. He met a young woman, Lula Baker, from Raleigh, Illinois, and they were married. Otto and Lula Arndt moved to St. Louis, Missouri. They had one child, Charlotte Arndt. Lula died shortly after Charlotte was born. Otto and his daughter Charlotte then moved to Butte, Montana where he worked as an accountant in a lumber company. Otto met and married a young woman, Ruth Wing. Ruth was born on Dec. 8 1886 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She moved with her parents to Butte Montana. Ruth’s parents later moved to Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. Otto and Ruth had one child, Elizabeth (Betty) Arndt, while living in Butte. Otto and Ruth then moved to Coeur d’ Alene with Charlotte, Otto’s daughter, and their daughter Betty. They lived with Ruth’s parents until Otto could build them a house of their own. Two more children were born in Coeur D’ Alene, Wilhelmine Margaret, and Otto Ernest Arndt. Otto and Ruth, with their children, eventually moved to Centralia, Washington, for 3 months, and then settled in Eugene, Oregon. One more child, Carl Fredrick Arndt was born in Eugene. Young Otto Ernest started elementary school in Eugene.

Five years later, Otto and Ruth bought into a lumber company and planing mill in Scappoose, Oregon. Young Otto graduated from 8th grade in Scappoose. They then moved to Portland, and he started 9th grade at Grant High School. His dad, Otto Emil commuted to Scappoose to work. Otto and Ruth then divorced. Otto Emil moved back to Scappoose where he worked. Otto’s daughter Charlotte had by then left home, moved to St. Louis and became a school teacher. Young Otto and sisters Betty and Margaret moved back to Scappoose with their dad. Carl, the youngest, stayed with his mom in Portland. Young Otto started his sophomore year of high school in Scappoose. Otto and Ruth remarried the next year, and Otto and young Otto and his sisters all moved back to Portland. His sisters soon got married and left home. Young Otto Ernest enrolled at Benson Polytechnic High School and began a 4 year course in the printing field. He graduated from Benson Tech 3 ½ years later in Jan. 1935. He had become very proficient on the linotype. He then began his career as a printer. His main type of work was a linotype operator, although he occasionally did other jobs in the printing field. (His brother Carl began a four-year course in electricity at Benson the fall before Otto graduated.) This was during the depression, and jobs were scarce. Otto Emil and Ruth divorced again after their youngest child, Carl, graduated. Carl did one tour of duty in the Navy before beginning his career.

Otto Ernest landed his first job in the spring of 1935 at the Banner Currier, a twice weekly publication in Oregon City. He worked there for almost 2 years. On Feb. 1, 1937 he began working at the Morning Enterprise, a 6 day a week publication. (It snowed 23 inches the day he started working there.) He worked there for 1 year. Otto then worked a few shifts at the Portland newspapers, The News-Telegram, the Oregon Journal, and the Morning Oregonian, hoping to obtain steady work, but was not hired. After that he went barnstorming around Oregon working on several weeklies, gaining experience. He lived in a boarding house in Prineville and worked there for several months. Otto, while living and working in Prineville, went back to Portland monthly, and while he was in Portland, he worked at the weekly Central Oregonian. On one of his trips back to Portland, he met Mary French on a blind date. The following month he left Prineville after the job there ended, and went to work for the Newberg Graphic for 3 months. At the suggestion of a former Newberg Graphic worker, working for the Oregon State Printing Department, Otto went to Salem and worked there for 14 months. This was all through the 1941 legislative session when the department was very busy. During the period he worked in Salem, Otto courted Mary French.

Mary and her sister Margret were identical twins, born Dec. 26, 1916. Mary Maude and Margret Laura French, along with their older sister Virginia, were born and raised in Roseburg, Oregon by their parents Vivian and Hazel French. After the twins had graduated from high school in Roseburg in 1935, they and their parents moved to Portland. By then their older sister Virginia had married and left home. Their father died January 1937. The twins Mary and Margret were offered jobs at Meier & Frank department store in Portland as fashion models. They also danced in the Meier & Frank chorus line during their annual shows. The twins were working at Meier & Frank as models and clerks when Otto met them in 1938.

Otto and Mary became engaged in 1939. Otto took Mary to Astoria for the day, and they climbed to the top of the Astoria Column where Otto proposed to her. Otto did not have steady work in those days, and Mary wouldn’t marry him until he had found a job. After all, the country was just emerging from the great depression of the 1930s. Mary continued working at Meier & Frank until they were married at Mt. Tabor Methodist Church in Northeast Portland, on Mar. 15, 1941. They started their lives together with a rented home in Salem. Later they purchased their first home at 1840 South High Street and lived there for a few months. Otto worked nights most of the time at the State Printing Department, and in fact, most of his life he worked night jobs. When the Salem job ended, Otto commuted from Salem to Corvallis, working at the Daily Gazette-Times for three months. On Dec. 7, 1941, just after emerging from a movie in Salem they saw screaming headlines, “JAPAN BOMBS PEARL HARBOR”. After the Corvallis job, they moved to St. Helens, Oregon, where Otto was employed as a Linotype operator at the weekly Sentinel-Mist. That lasted three months also. They rented an apartment to live in during that time.

The shipyards were booming, so Otto went to work at a Kaiser Shipyard in St. Johns, as a timekeeper. After a few weeks there, he transferred to Swan Island, another Kaiser yard where they built tankers for the war effort. Otto worked the month of Dec, 1942, on the outfitting dock as a pipefitter’s helper. The weather was so bitter cold on the dock that he applied for and got a job in the accounting office, doing payroll work and other types of accounting tasks for the shipyard. The work involved punch-card handling and IBM tabulating machine operating. Mary went to work in the spring of 1943 in the same office doing keypunch work.

During those months in 1943, a friend of Otto’s made them an attractive offer of a house in N.E. Portland. They sold the Salem home and bought the friend’s house at 3733 NE 64th Avenue, near Fremont Street. Their first child, Thomas Carl Arndt, was born on Feb. 6, 1945, at the old original St Vincent Hospital in NW Portland. When Tom was ten days old, and the war was still on, Otto was called up for draft. His draft board had ordered him to report for induction at Salem. Then Congress passed a law exempting fathers over 29 years of age. Otto called his draft board in Salem and confirmed it, so he didn’t need to go to war. That was the closest Otto ever came to being in the armed services. The war ended in Apr. of 1945, about 2 months after Thomas was born. Otto and Mary worked at Swan Island Kaiser shipyard until the end of the war.

In the last months of the war, Otto had purchased a 16-mm sound motion picture projector, and had used it for promoting war bond sales, and was running week-end shows at two small communities in Washington County, Timber and Buxton. These two experiences proved to be fun, as well as showing some promise of being profitable, so Otto went on a scouting trip to Baker, Oregon, to explore the possibilities of running these shows in five towns around Baker. Since there was no television then, the people there attended the weekly shows very well at first. After the scouting trip to Baker, about September of 1945, Otto and Mary with their infant son Thomas Carl, loaded a trailer with necessities, and moved to Baker. Otto started the Circuit Theater, taking his new Bell & Howell 16-mm sound movie projectors, and an 8 x1O-foot screen around to five towns near Baker five nights a week for 18 months. Their second child Donna Margret Arndt was born at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Baker on Sept. 18, 1946. During those 18 months that Otto ran the Circuit Theater, Otto also worked part time at a weekly newspaper, The Record-Courier, in Baker, to help support the family. Otto also took portraits, which Mary colored by hand to help with expenses. Otto Emil Arndt, young Otto’s Dad, passed away May 21, 1947. Finally after 18 months of going out in all kinds of weather they called it quits with the Circuit Theater. One night in Sumpter OR, it got down to 22 degrees below zero. They sold the equipment and Otto went to work for the daily newspaper at Baker, The Democrat-Herald. Their third child, James Allen Arndt was born at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital on Feb. 1, 1948, just 6 days before big brother Thomas turned 3 years old with sister Donna right in between them. While living in Baker, Otto and Mary purchased an old, very large house which they converted into two 3-room apartments. They lived there a year. Then they bought a half-acre of land on the outskirts of Baker and built a 20×30-foot building of pumice blocks in which they lived, expecting later to build a larger house as a permanent dwelling. Otto learned a little about operative masonry, and laid the 650 pumice blocks of the building that was planned to later be a shop and garage. During the next 18 months The Democrat-Herald newspaper built a new building and moved the plant. Only the few employees that were under contract with the Typographical Union remained employed there. Otto had dropped his membership during the war. Because of this Otto lost his job at the newspaper.

Otto had been an amateur photographer since he was about 12 years old, and while in Baker he became interested in aerial photography as a result of meeting two fliers who had a small airport just north of Baker. During the spring of 1948 a great flood destroyed the war-built city of Vanport, between Portland and Vancouver, the flood not only hit Portland, but also was statewide. Otto shot aerial photos in eastern Oregon of the flood around the Baker, LaGrande and Union areas. He paid the pilots to take him up to shoot photos. He shot pictures, of towns in Baker County and of the Snake River Canyon.

In the fall of 1948 Otto and Mary sold the houses in Baker and moved to Yacolt, Washington. Otto and his brother-in-law, John Curtis, his sister Betty’s husband, entered into a partnership for the purpose of trapping muskrats. John Curtis was a trapper, hunter, fisherman, and general outdoorsman and they thought they could make money trapping on the 160 acres of second-growth timber, which they bought. On the land stood a huge duplex house and a barn. Otto and Mary brought a cow, a pig, and some rabbits to Yacolt with them. It was a hard winter for Mary and the three kids, as there was no electricity, and very little water. They cooked by wood range, and heated with one of the two huge fireplaces, one on each side of the duplex house, back to back. Betty and John Curtis and their son John Jr. lived in the other side of the duplex from the Arndts. Otto worked at a commercial printing firm in Portland during the fall and winter of 1948 till the fall of 1949, living with his mother, Ruth in Portland, during the week, and commuting to Yacolt on weekends. Otto had renewed his membership in the Typographical Union.

In the fall of 1949 Otto and Mary bought a new home. Otto’s mother Ruth had sold their NE 64th Avenue home for them while they were in Baker. This new home was on 2~1/2 acres in a beautiful grove of fir trees southwest of Portland, in the Durham community, on Lower Boones Ferry Road. The house was a high-pitched-roof building, with six rooms and a half basement; also a large garage-shop building with a small room upstairs. There they had a milk cow, a couple of steers to butcher for meat, and rabbits and chickens, and had a large garden spot to grow vegetables. On the property was a small barn for the livestock, and an old small log cabin, that became a great playhouse for the children to play in. It even had a loft with a ladder going up to it.

In 1949 Otto obtained work at The Oregonian in Portland, bucking the extra board. He worked moderately steadily there, and was able to get enough work with outside printing firms to survive, while still retaining seniority at The Oregonian. There was a union ruling that anyone on the extra board could “turn his slip” as it was termed, and work indefinite periods of time on the outside. Also whenever situation holders (the regulars) wanted to take time off, they could hire any substitute they wished to. (It was wise for extras to cultivate the friendship of as many regulars as they could, thereby increasing the chances of getting more work.) Another union ruling was that when a regular had accumulated one-day’s overtime, he was required to give that day, which he had worked at time-and-a-half, to a substitute on the extra board, at straight time. That ruling was enacted to help spread the work around to those not working full time. Otto was able to work almost full time with the help of the outside work.

Tom and Donna, Otto and Mary’s two oldest children started school in the little Durham Elementary School, near Tigard; Tom in 1951 and Donna in 1952. (The school building still stands at the end of the football field of the current Tigard High School, but is no longer used as a school.) On May 23, 1953, Judith Pauline, Otto and Mary’s fourth and last child, was born to them, in the old St. Vincent hospital, which was eventually replaced by the new St. Vincent hospital on SW Barnes road.

During the early summer of 1953, the state highway department had surveyed their 2-1/2 acres while they were away on a vacation, for an interchange at what is now the Lake Oswego I~5 interchange. They found stakes all over their property when they arrived home. The state wanted to purchase only the needed triangle of land. After negotiations and help from a qualified appraiser who appraised the Durham property, the State agreed to purchase the entire property at a fair price.

71st Ave and Garden Home Rd from W

71st Ave and Garden Home Rd from W

Through a realtor they located a commercially zoned, one-acre tract with a four-bedroom, two story house built in 1926 located at 7125 SW Garden Home Road, directly across the street from the Garden Home Community Methodist Church. It had a full basement and included a 2-level concrete block shop. The two-level shop building, erected in 1945 had 2900 square feet of floor space. It was just what they wanted. They were giving up a nice home with basement, and detached shop. They immediately applied the sale of the Durham property to the Garden Home place, and it became their home for the next 20 years. They bought the house and property from a Mr. George Sturly who had had a nursery business on the property. He built and used the large two story shop for growing his plants.

While living in his last home in Durham and now in Garden Home, Otto intensified his hobby of aerial photography by chartering planes with pilots, and shot aerials of all small towns in the Tualatin Valley south and west of Portland, 20 towns in all. He used a 4×5-inch Speed Graphic newspaper camera for most of the work. He also had a Rolle flex twin-lens 2-1/4 x 2-1/4-inch reflex camera, and a 2-1/4 x 3-1/4 Speed Graphic camera for some of it. He managed to sell enough of the photos to pay for his airplane rides and other expenses. Of course he always took close-up aerial shots of his own various homes. From the black and white negatives he made enlargements up to l6x20 inches, and sometimes 30×40-inch murals. He had always maintained his own darkroom for developing and printing pictures in his homes since he was a teenager. Later he found darkrooms, which rented out space and equipment, into which he could go and do the work. The home in Garden Home had a perfect darkroom in the basement of the house for this purpose. Otto and Mary’s oldest son Tom became very interested in photography, and learned to develop and print pictures in his dad’s darkroom. Tom also became interested in film making. So Otto got out his 8 mm camera and film projector that he had used for home movies both at Durham and Garden Home, which Tom used to create films. (This played into Tom’s later career.)

[Editor’s note: Click here to view Otto’s aerial photo collection of Garden Home and nearby areas.]

Mary’s mother, Hazel French, sold her home in Portland and moved in with them upon her retirement.

She lived with them for many years. Hazel later moved into the Masonic & Eastern Star Home in Forest Grove, Oregon, where she passed away Sept. 15, 1979.

The large shop on the Garden Home property was ideal for Otto’s hobbies including wood working and engraving. Otto had many power tools which he used to build many things including a toddler bed for his youngest daughter Judy. As a result of a fortunate buy of some woodworking equipment while in Baker, Bud became interested in woodturning. He preferred myrtle wood of all woods, and became involved, through a printer friend, in making fine gavels. He developed a distinctive design and started making them for sale, and also for gifts. Stevens-Ness, his employer between 1962 and 1977, displayed them in their office supply store, where they sold very well. Bud built up a reputation for fine gavels in those years. Otto taught all of his children, even the girls how to safely use the power tools, and all of the tools in his shop. His children grew up knowing how to build and repair many things.

The Garden Home property had a large garden plot in the back to grow most of their vegetables, with several long rows of different varieties of berries along the back fence. There were raspberries, boysenberries and loganberries. Near the garden area was a small pump house built over a cistern which collected the rainwater from the gutters of the house and shop. That water then could be pumped to the garden to water the growing plants in the summer. The property also included a grove of 16 or 18 filbert (hazelnut) trees, two walnut trees, two Yellow Transparent apple trees, two large pear trees, one large Bing cherry tree, and one large Lambert cherry tree, a small Royal Anne cherry tree, a purple plum tree, a Concord grape arbor, and a trellis in the middle of the backyard with cultivated Himalaya Blackberries. The family had all the fruit that they could possibly eat, and preserve for winter. They grew most of their vegetables in the garden to eat fresh, and either can, or blanch and freeze for winter. They usually took the vegetables that they wanted canned to the Whitney’s Custom Cannery down the road from their house. The basement of the house had lots of shelves for storing canned fruit and vegetables, and a large home built deep freezer with 8 separate sections to store frozen food. They annually purchased a side of beef and had it packaged and put in the freezer. They even had so much room in the freezer, that they let some of their neighbors use freezer space when they needed it.

The property had so much potential for keeping the children occupied, with a big yard to play in, trees to climb and harvest fruit from, especially the cherry trees the kids loved to climb. The upstairs of the shop building with the large windows facing the south, provided a wonderful place for the children to play in the wintertime when it was too cold or wet to be outside for long. Their oldest son Tom became interested in model railroads. Tom, over a period of several years built a model HO scale railroad in the upstairs of the shop. It was about 5×8 feet in size. He became a member of the Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club, and continued in the club for a time when he was going to college and working in Portland.

The children all attended the Garden Home Elementary School, which was only two blocks from their house. Tom started 3rd grade when they moved there in the fall of 1953, and Donna started 2nd Grade. Jim started 1st grade the fall of 1954. Judy Started 1st grade 5 years later in 1959. Tom, Donna and Jim all graduated from 8th grade in the Garden Home School. Judy’s was the first class to begin at Whitford Jr. High, when Beaverton School District went to a system of elementary school, junior high school and high school. Instead of just elementary grades 1-8, then high school grades 9-12.

The Arndt family was involved in the Garden Home Community Methodist Church. John Wood was the new young pastor, newly appointed to the church in June, just 3 months before the Arndts moved there. The Arndt children all attended Sunday school. The younger children in the old Fraley house that the church had purchased next door to the church’s parsonage, and the older children in the basement of the church. They sang in children’s choirs and participated in Christmas plays. When they got older they participated in youth groups and sang in the adult choir. Mary Arndt was active as a youth leader for several years, taking the youth on campouts etc. Otto was active with men’s groups that worked on projects around the church repairing and maintaining the church buildings and property. The Arndt children all attended summer camps at Methodist camps around the state. Mary also served as a counselor and lifeguard at some of the camps. Some of the camps included Camp Magruder near Tillamook on the coast, Suttle Lake Camp on the North Santiam Pass in the Cascade Mountains, Loon Lake, and Dead Indian Soda Springs in Southern Oregon. Around 1960, the time that pastor John Wood moved on to a different church, and Willard Norman became the pastor, the church people built a new church building about 10 blocks down Garden Home Road on 81st ST.

Mary and Otto both became involved in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts as leaders. Mary had a Cub Scout den for several years while her boys were in Cub Scouts. Otto helped with the Boy Scouts when his boys moved on to Boy Scouts. Mary also was involved in Camp Fire Girls, and was a leader of her daughter’s Campfire groups. (Mary had been in Camp Fire Girls as a young girl.) Mary and Otto were also involved in other community activities such as the Garden Home School PTA etc.

In 1959, after Otto had worked for about ten years at the Oregonian, labor problems in the Stereotypers Union loomed. Otto sensed trouble, so he left his job as linotype operator and night copycutter on the news copy desk in the composing room, and took a job operating a linotype at Irwin-Hodson, a large commercial printing firm. Just five weeks thereafter, the Stereotypers struck the Oregonian and Journal, and the Printers, Mailers and Pressmen were locked out. The strike was never settled and the newspaper went entirely non-union. The Journal was taken over by Samuel Newhouse, owner of The Oregonian. That paper was eventually discontinued, leaving The Oregonian the only remaining daily newspaper in Portland. Otto later secured a job at Stevens Ness Law Publishing Company.

Otto’s mother Ruth passed away on July 1, 1961 at the age of 75 after having a stroke, and having to be in a nursing home for several months. Pastor Willard Norman of the Garden Home Methodist Church did her funeral.

All four of the Arndt children attended and graduated from Beaverton High School: Tom in 1963, Donna in1964, Jim in 1966, and Judy in 1971.

After High School, Tom attended Portland State University where he studied architecture. Being unsatisfied with his career direction after a year or two of college, He joined the Navy, entering the Submarine Service. He was stationed on the USS Sabbalo, going to Japan and the Philippines during his two-years. His submarine was briefly in the war zone during the Vietnam War. The ‘boat’ on which Tom served came to visit Portland with the Rose Festival fleet in 1965. After Tom got out of the Navy, he went back to Portland State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Drawing and Painting and went into a career of art and animation for movies and television. Tom Married Bonnie Barns from Medford, Oregon on July 22, 1978. Tom and Bonnie divorced in 1991. Tom and Bonnie had no children. While pursuing film work, he also taught traditional animation and special effects in a variety of schools in Portland and California. In 1992 Tom moved to Larkspur in Marin County, California. Tom joined with Robbin Atherly, another animator from Portland. Robbin and his wife Suzanne, formed a company they called Six-Foot-Two. Tom became their lead director, designer and animator. They have done commercial spots, games, music videos and other animation services for companies such as, Pixar, Disney and Lucas Arts. He has technical credits on the feature films, My Own Private Idaho, Moon Walker, Freaked, and Monkey Bone, and did animation for numerous commercials for television. Tom’s last teaching position was at the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco, California where he taught for at least 10 or 15 years before he passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack in August of 2013 at the age of 68.

After high school, Donna did child care. (Donna actually began her “Childcare Career” as a youth babysitting for many local families in Garden Home.) She first worked as a nanny for a couple of individual families, then landed a job at West Hills Preschool and Day Care in Multnomah. She worked there from about 1965 until she became engaged to be married in 1968. Donna loved working with children, so she taught children’s Sunday school at the Methodist Church, and helped in vacation Bible schools at the church each summer. Also Donna served as a counselor as Suttle Lake Methodist Camp during the summers. Donna met her husband at one of those camp sessions. She married Milford (Mel) Monroe Oliver, a retired career Army sergeant on May 3, 1969 at the Garden Home Methodist Church. He was originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, born August 30, 1921. Mel, when Donna met him was serving as a Methodist Pastor. Donna and Mel after they were married moved to Lakewood, WA where Mel served at a church. The fall of 1969 they moved to Salem Oregon and Mel worked as a security officer briefly, until they bought a home in Sublimity, Oregon where Mel became Chief of Police. He attended the Police Academy in Salem. In 1970 Mel took the job of manager of the Methodist Church Camp at Suttle Lake and Donna became the head cook at the camp. Donna and Mel had their first child, Byron George Oliver, born at Central Oregon District Hospital in Redmond, Oregon on June 29, 1971. Unfortunately, the baby lived only 3 days due to a serious heart defect. At the end of the summer camp session of 1971, Donna and Mel wanted a fresh start, and moved to Gig Harbor Washington. There, Mel worked at Madigan Army Medical Center on Fort Lewis, near Tacoma Wa. where he had been stationed part of his army career as a lab tech. Donna continued her career as a “Child Care Provider” Donna and Mel had two more children, both daughters: Kathleen Charlotte Oliver, born August 27, 1972, and Nancy Evalyn Oliver born October 14, 1974. Mel and Donna also began taking foster children into their home. Over all they had 14 different foster children come and go from their home. One of the foster children they ended up adopting, a boy, David Young Brammer, named changed to David Young Oliver. Donna’s husband Mel died July 2006 at age 84. Donna continued her childcare career, with her latest job at Lighthouse Christian School in Gig Harbor, Washington, doing after school care. Donna is planning on retiring in June of 2016, a few months before she turns 70.

On July 12, 1966 the summer before he drilled with the reserves Jim started his senior year of High School, he joined the Naval Reserve.monthly on weekends during his senior year of high school. Then going active duty following graduation, Jim found himself stationed on the island of Okinawa for his two years during the Vietnam war. After his Active duty time, Jim married Barbara Seefeld from Newberg, Oregon. They were married on Jan. 4, 1974. Jim continued in the Naval Reserve until he could receive a retirement pension from the Navy.

Jim and Barbara moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where Jim attended Mississippi College. Jim and Barbara had 1 son while living in Jackson, Mississippi: Allen Ernest Arndt, born Oct. 22, 1975. Later Jim earned a master’s degree in Religious Education from a Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

While in Texas, Jim and Barbara had twin boys, Matthew James Arndt and Michael William Arndt born December 26, 1978 (born on the birthday of their Grandmother Mary Arndt, who was also a twin).

The fourth child born to Jim and Barbara was David Andrew Arndt, born March 3, 1980 in Clarkston, Wash., while they were living in Craigmont, Idaho. There Jim was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister.

Jim served churches in Craigmont and Emmett, Idaho, Redway and Rio Del, California before returning to Oregon. Jim and Barbara moved to Hillsboro, Oregon, and Jim began working for Intel. After their boys were grown, Jim and Barbara divorced. Jim continues to live in the Beaverton area and is still working for Intel. He plans to retire when he turns 70.

Judy has always had a passion for horses. After graduation from high school, she took her horse and went to California to attend Raw Hide Vocational College in San Diego County. After she finished at Raw Hide, she returned home, living with her parents until she got married to Harry Clinton Wise II in 1976. Judy and Harry bought a two-acre tract of land and house on Molalla Road, Highway 213, five miles east of Oregon City. There they started an herb farm they called “Wise Acres”. They grew herbs that they packaged to sell. They also had animals. A couple of sheep and goats etc. and angora rabbits, and of course her horses. Judy helped her dad, before she was married, to build a spinning wheel out of myrtle wood. The spinning wheel was a wedding gift to her from her dad, even though Judy helped with it. She used the spinning wheel to spin sheep wool from their sheep, and rabbit hair from their angora rabbits. Judy and Harry had 3 children. The first was Laura Bluzena Wise, July 15, 1981, born at Bess Kaiser Hospital in Portland. Harry Clinton Wise III was born October 3, 1983, also born at Bess Kaiser. He went by Clint. Their third child Erika Sue Wise, was born in their home on July 20, 1989. Judy and Harry separated, and Judy took the children and lived up on Dixie Mountain where Judy’s Uncle Carl, her dad’s brother, had started building a house. He had contracted cancer before finishing the house. Judy helped care for her Uncle Carl until he died in December of 1996. Judy continued to live there, with her cousin Dana’s permission until his dad’s estate was settled. It took many years for the estate to be settled, and so Judy continued to raise her children up there until they were grown, home schooling them most of the time. Judy and Harry eventually divorced. Judy had her horses up there on the mountain. Judy is now living part time in Oregon and part time in California.

After the kids were all graduated from high school, and moved from their home in Garden Home, Otto and Mary bought seven acres of land near Sherwood, with a year-round stream, a 7-room log-faced house with hot-water heat in a fully-finished basement with a 20×30-foot shop, beneath a carport of that size. They moved there in the fall of 1973. While there, both retired, Bud in 1977 after working 15 years for Stevens-Ness Law Publishing Company in Portland. Mary retired in 1979, from where she worked for 13 years for Sawyers View Master which later became GAF in Progress, Oregon. In 1979, they embarked across the country on a six-week trip in their Tioga motor home which they had purchased the year before.

Upon returning home from their trip, Otto and Mary pursued their hobbies, Mary crocheting and gardening and reading. Otto pursued printing as a hobby because he loved the craft (it was in his blood). His other hobbies included –woodworking, photography, and gardening. He had been at the printing trade for 65 years, including training for it in high school, working for 50 years doing mostly Linotype and Intertype operating, then hobbying with it since retiring. Otto also made several trips up in a plane after his retirement, taking pictures of the same areas he shot in the 40’s and 50’s, as comparisons, and sold some as murals, “then and now” to businesses in those towns.

In 1981, from a single piece of myrtle wood Otto fashioned two l1-inch gavels, exactly alike. He engraved on polished stainless steel plates the appropriate inscriptions, and sent one to President Reagan, and kept one. These gavels have some inserts of special wood in the head and handle of each gavel. One end of the head has a piece of wood that came from the old Battle Ship Oregon that became famous in the Spanish American war. The other insert in the gavel head came from the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) when it was refurbished. The third insert came from the White House when President Truman remodeled. About a month thereafter he received a letter of acknowledgement and thanks on White House stationery, dictated and signed by the president. The letter, with a copy of the original letter to him, which accompanied the gavel to Reagan, was displayed in Otto and Mary’s home, along with the duplicate gavel, which he kept. (Otto’s daughter Donna now has the duplicate gavel with the letters.) The gavel, which Otto sent to Reagan, is now displayed in the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The letter from Reagan reads in its entirety:



November 19, 1981

Dear Mr. Arndt:

I was delighted to receive your kind message and want to thank you for sending me the handsome, specially designed gavel which you crafted. The legend you provided on the origin of the wood you used makes it a truly symbolic piece. Your thoughtful remembrance will be a welcome addition to our future Presidential collection, and I deeply appreciate your gesture of friendship and support. Thank you for thinking of me.

Nancy joins me in sending you our warm best wishes.


(Signed) Ronald Reagan

In February of 1982, as a result of the Reagan gavel episode, Bud appeared on a local magazine show called “Faces and Places”, featuring the Reagan gavel, and an all-myrtle wood spinning wheel which he made for his daughter Judy as a wedding gift, and many other crafted pieces. Otto kept a video copy of that show. Otto’s Daughter, Donna has his copy of that show, along with an extra copy)

They lived in Sherwood until 1985, when the work on the big place got to be more than they could handle, so they sold it and moved into Heritage Village in Aloha, Oregon. The life savings that were tied up in the Sherwood home were a welcome supplement to their small pensions and social security income. Otto and Mary celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary March 15, 1991, and their 58th on March 15, 1999.

On October 18, 1999, Mary suddenly became very ill and was taken to St. Vincent Hospital where she passed away at 10:45 p.m. on October 20, 1999 at the age of 83, just over two months before she turned 84, and the turn of the century, which she was looking forward to. She was cremated, and her remains are buried in a joint grave, which had been previously arranged for both Otto and her, at Rose City Cemetery at NE 57th Avenue and Fremont Street in Portland. Otto continued living in their home in Aloha, celebrating his 90th birthday with all his children and many grandchildren present, in Apr. of 2005. In November of 2007 he was moved to a memory care facility in Gig Harbor Washington, where he passed away in April of 2008 at the age of 93. He too was cremated and his remains are buried in Portland with his wife’s.

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8 Responses to The Otto Arndt Story

  1. Ginny Mapes says:

    Very nice. I do have lots of information on Wm. Clemmens— don’t know if you are interested? Just got one note from Virginia and it seems she has a big project.

    Ginny Mapes

  2. tmarkgraf77 says:

    I am hoping we might be related … 🙂 I am researching the Arndt family and documenting everything on ancestry.. my heritage and my website 🙂 my email is

    Gottfried Arndt (1860 – )
    2nd great-grandfather
    Otto August Arndt (1887 – 1950)

    Otto August Arndt
    BIRTH 2 APR 1887 • Welbsleben, Mansfeld-Südharz, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
    DEATH 17 APR 1950 • Berlin, Berlin, Deutschland
    my great-grandfather

    I know when he was in Berlin my mom said he rented a garage in Berlin where he sold his furniture and things he made.

    son of Gottfried Arndt
    Gerda Irmgard Paula Arndt (1921 – 2000)
    daughter of Otto August Arndt
    Ingeborg Seidel (1941 – )
    daughter of Gerda Irmgard Paula Arndt
    Tanja Jasmine Elizabeth Boehme
    You are the daughter of Ingeborg Seidel

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