Less than a year ago, Dale Ott attended his retirement party at Carter County Annex No. 1. Surrounded by co-workers and friends, Ott received a clock as a token of appreciation for the 24 years he had served as a county commissioner.
Tuesday, time stood still for Ott, who died at the age of 73. Ott had battled leukemia in recent months, yet his death came as a shock to many.
“Dale was a good guy,” County Commissioner Kevin Robinson said. “He was probably the happy side of the commissioner’s group for a long time. We didn’t always agree, but we agreed to disagree. I really hate the fact he was only out of office for less than a year before he passed away.”
County Clerk Cynthia Harmon on Tuesday afternoon visited Ott’s wife, Kim, and recalled happier times.
“We were laughing about a lot of things,” Harmon said. “He was a take-charge kind of guy with a heart of gold. although he didn’t want you to know he had a heart of gold.”
Harmon said the family had hoped Ott would get to come home for the holidays but his health took a turn for the worse.
“She is happy but sad,” Harmon said of Kim Ott. “She is happy he is no longer suffering but sad he is gone. The leukemia took a toll.
“We were co-workers, but more than anything, he was my friend. I loved him and I will miss him.”
Prior to taking the District 3 seat on the Carter County Commission, Ott was a businessman for 22 years. He also loved the outdoors and enjoyed golf.
“Personally, he was a good friend of mine, and I commend him for his service to Carter County,” Carter County Sheriff Milton Anthony said. “He took care of business and he was an all-around good guy.
“I talked to him in the hospital. He said it was bad, but I didn’t know it was that bad. I was shocked when I heard the news this morning. I have played golf with him and we had a big time on the golf course. He will be missed.”
Ott’s impact as a commissioner was widespread. Other county officers respected him and appreciated his personality, which provided levity to a demanding job.
“We were very saddened to hear about Dale’s passing in our office,” District Attorney Craig Ladd said. “As county commissioner, he was an extremely dedicated and competent public servant. Carter County was fortunate to have him. As a friend, you could always count on Dale’s jovial personality to lighten the mood in the room. He was also generous. On several occasions over the years, Dale volunteered to smoke brisket for the D.A.’s Christmas parties, and he was quite the pit master. I used to joke with him about someday opening a barbecue restaurant. He was a “man’s man” and just an all-around great guy. We will miss Dale and keep his family in our prayers.”
During his tenure with the county, Ott oversaw the purchase of a new county barn for District 3, completed major bridge projects and was particularly proud of a $6.5 million project for an industrial access road for Dolese Rock Plant.
“On behalf of the judges in Carter County, first we would like to offer our condolences to his family for their loss,” District Judge Dennis Morris said. “Dale, as all of the county commissioners, has always worked very hard to maintain the courthouse for all the offices and people they serve. His smile and good nature will be missed.”
Ott will be laid to rest Friday. Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Ardmore.
“I have known him my whole life,” Commissioner Joe David McReynolds said. “He owned a gas station and my dad owned a parts store, so our family knew him from that and we went camping with Dale and his family.
“I have always respected Dale. He loved his work at the county and he will be missed.”