Community Giving

Introducing the CommunityFoundation IdeaCenter…
Empowering community foundations by learning and sharing from each other.

Marv and Gladys Otto

Marv Otto

Fund Name:: Marv Otto Family Funds
Community Foundation(s): Willmar Area

Marv Otto was the kind of the man who would stop by the grocery store, give the clerk $100 for a certain person who he knew needed it and ask to remain anonymous.

Marv knew what it was like to go without. His mother died shortly after his birth, and he was raised in poverty by his aunt and grandparents. As an adult and successful businessman, Otto believed in giving back.

Marv died in 2009 at age 92, made plans to continue his charitable giving with his estate. Marv’s estate planning included the use of charitable gift annuities which, based on his age when established them in 2001, paid a guaranteed return which is considerably higher than most investments were generating in that day’s market.

With those annuities and a bequest gift, Marv established two funds—the Marvin and Gladys Otto Family Foundation and the Marvin and Hazel Otto Family Foundation. The funds honor his two wives: Hazel, who died in the 1960s and Gladys who died in 1999. His legacy continues through bequests Otto and Gladys made through the Willmar Area Community Foundation. The Ottos' funds support charities that the couple valued in Kandiyohi County.

He credited Gladys for inspiring his habits of generosity. “Gladys was generous,” Marv said, and by the time in life that they had resources to share, they decided to do so.

“Too often, words like philanthropy and charitable giving and such get tossed around, and they’re sort of abstract terms, seemingly removed from everyday life,’’ WACF Director Dean Anderson said. “But they weren’t for Marv and Gladys Otto."

“They knew their place, in the very best sense, in the world. And they didn’t just take from it, they also gave back. Maybe there’s a lesson for all of us. We need to take care of our place.”

Go to the West Central Tribune to learn more about the Ottos.