Otto Howard Wirth, 83
Otto Howard Wirth of Greater Bass Lake was called to his heavenly reward on November 5, 2018, at the age of 83.
Otto was born in Antigo, Wisconsin on September 22, 1935, one of five children of Otto Konrad and Agnes Wirth. He was the third child, but the first child in his family born in a hospital. Otto grew up on the family farm outside of Phlox.
After graduating from Antigo High School, Otto went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison where he graduated with a degree in agriculture and a Master Degree in Business Administration (Finance), summa cum laude. He received both degrees in only five years. He also participated in ROTC, leaving school as a lieutenant in the Army Reserves. After graduation, he worked for a short period as an insurance adjuster and then became a banker.
In 1962, Otto met his best friend and the love of his life, Nona Beattie. They married on April 24, 1963, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Otto and Nona sacramentally confirmed their marriage vows at St. James Catholic Church in Mequon on April 11, 1980.
Otto’s career in banking spanned over 30 years. He started as a bond trader at the Marine National Exchange Bank in Milwaukee. By age 35, he was the president of one of the larger banks in the Marine Bank holding company. Within a few years, he was running five of the Marine Banks, and by his early 40s, he was part of the executive team for the entire corporation. He was part of the team that negotiated the sale of the Marine Banks to Bank One (Bank One was later acquired by Chase). Due to his versatility as a banker, and the respect he earned among his peers, he ran virtually every facet of The Marine Corporation/Bank One Wisconsin at one point or another, including serving as Chief Financial Officer. Otto was the driving force behind many of the holding company’s acquisitions, including its bank in Antigo. He intended to retire at about 54; however, when Bank One bought dozens of financial institutions in Texas at the time of the savings and loan crisis, he agreed to move to Dallas to spend a short period reorganizing 11 of the banks. A little over a year later, he retired.
Otto was a dedicated husband and father of five children. Despite his busy professional life, he always put family first.
Otto and his family lived in a variety of places around Milwaukee, primarily in Cudahy and Mequon. Since their short stop in Texas, Otto and Nona split their time between Bass Lake and Florida. Otto was a member of St. John’s Catholic Church in Antigo for most of his life.
Otto believed in hard work. Even after retiring, he did some consulting work and ran his Christmas tree farm (at one point he had over 35,000 trees). He was a do-it-yourselfer, having remodeled several homes, including multiple additions to his and Nona’s Bass Lake home. He was proud of his yard and loved decorating for the holidays (justifying his over-the-top decorations as being for his kids and grandkids). He was an avid card player and hunter, and tortured himself with his golf game and the Packers. He was actively involved with the Bass Lake Country Club. Otto was a world traveler, having traveled throughout the United States and extensively in six of the seven continents.
Otto was incredibly generous. His kids and grandkids were often the beneficiaries, but so were a wide variety of charities and political candidates. He also did things for others for which he sought no recognition. As an example, he bought all the Christmas gifts one year for eight children who lost their parents shortly before the holidays.
Otto is survived by his children and their spouses: Catherine and Greg Magyera of Apache Junction, Arizona, Richard and Phyllis Wirth of Cottage Grove, Minnesota, John and Stacey Wirth of Mequon, Robert Wirth of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Janet and Brian Fussell of Mequon; 11 grandchildren Stephanie (Ryan) Semanko, Adam (Nicole) Magyera, Joseph (Jody) Wirth, Matthew Wirth, Jennifer (Zachary) Nichols, Katie Wirth, Victoria Wirth, Erin Wirth, Cameron Evans, Emily Fussell and Michael Fussell; eight great grandchildren; two sisters-in-law, Dorothy Wirth (widow of Donald Wirth) and Delores Wirth-Meyer (widow of Robert Wirth); 23 nieces and nephews; and other relatives and friends. Last, but not least, he is survived by Snickers, the dog he called “stupid pooch” that he bought for Nona but which became his companion.
Otto was preceded in death last year by Nona. Her passing broke his heart. He also was preceded in death by his parents; all four of his siblings and two of their spouses: Richard and Geraldine Wirth of Manitowoc, Donald Wirth of Antigo, Janet and Roy Plamann of Neenah, and Robert Wirth of Wausau; Nona’s brothers and their wives: Homer John and Evelyn Beattie of Norman, Oklahoma, Bernard “Buzz” and Nancy Beattie of Antigo, and Richard and Margaret Ann Beattie of Merced, California; two nephews; one niece; and numerous other relatives and friends.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Monday, November 12, at 11:00 a.m. at St. John Catholic Church, 415 6th Avenue, Antigo, with Otto’s friend, the Rev. Charles Hoffmann officiating. Burial will take place at Queen of Peace Cemetery.
A visitation will be held on Sunday at Bradley Funeral Home from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with a wake service at 5:30 p.m. Additionally, there will be a visitation prior to the funeral Mass at St. John Catholic Church starting at 10:30 a.m. on Monday.
Instead of flowers, donations may be made to All Saints Catholic School, 415 Sixth Ave., Antigo, WI 54409.