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Public Notices

April 21, 2014

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J. Norse Ottem

Published: 07/30/2013

J. Norse Ottem

Died: July 27, 2013

J. Norse Ottem, 74, of Woodmont Drive, Greeneville, died Saturday at his

home surrounded by family and friends.

Norse Ottem was born to Johan, a Norwegian immigrant, and his wife, Madge Ottem, of Ottway in 1939.

Growing up, he was proud to call the Camp Creek and Sunnyside areas home. In his later years, he loved to reminisce about riding his horses between the two communities to visit friends.

Following graduation from Greeneville High School, he served his country by joining the U.S. Marine Corps. He also served for several years in the Marine Corps Reserve.

After his Marine Corps service, he attended the University of Montana at Missoula to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.

During his time in college and for several years after, he worked for the United States Forest Service in several capacities, including forest fire fighting.

His 36 years as an educator began in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, and led him back to Greene County to teach at Ottway Elementary School, South Greene High School, and North Greene High School.

He earned a Master of Arts degree in history at East Tennessee State University.

While social studies and history were the focus of his classroom instruction for the first 20 years of his teaching career, he went back to school to become certified in Spanish education, which he dedicated himself to teaching in the last years of his career.

Always one for the challenge, he traveled to Spain to attend an intensive Spanish education program at the University of Madrid. While in Spain, he witnessed the legendary Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.

He proudly embraced his Norwegian heritage and traveled to the land of his father in 2000 and again in 2007. There, he connected with relatives who shared stories of his father and his hometown of Bodo, Norway.

Back in Tennessee, he was an active member of the Vikings of the Smokies, the Knoxville chapter of the Sons of Norway; the Elbert Kinser Marine Corps League; and the Tennessee Retired Teachers Association.

Among his passions were a love of nature and the mountains of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. An avid hiker, he walked the trails of the Appalachian Mountains until the last year of his life. He had a personal goal of hiking to every named waterfall in East Tennessee, and by all accounting this goal was reached.

He was a former member of Central Baptist Church and a current member of First Baptist Church.

He was a faithful Christian, whose faith in God never wavered, and was an active and observant church member.

His kind and humble nature was a guiding light to both family and friends alike. A friend once said of him, "He loved his family, his church, and his God. He never once told an off-colored joke, nor did he ever gossip about a fellow traveler."

He was a loving father, a loyal friend and a mentor to many young people. A family friend, who as a young person remembered him, said, "He would only raise his voice to get your attention and then drop it back down. His authority never overpowered the love he had."

In his final year, he was afflicted with the debilitating and fatal disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also called Lou Gehrig's Disease). True to his Christian faith, he never once complained, never once questioned the fairness of his situation.

He is survived by his wife: Marsha Ottem; one son and daughter-in-law: Dr. Erich Norse Ottem and Mary Martin of Marquette, Mich.; one son: Jonathan Matthew Ottem of Atlanta, Ga.; one brother and sister-in-law: Hans and Karen Ottem; a special nephew: Ronald S. Ottem; three special nieces: Sherry and Melissa Ottem and Stacey McDonald; his nieces and nephews: Josiah Ottem, Lydia Ottem, Artemas Ottem, Jotham Ottem, Caleb Ottem, Obadiah Ottem, Jachin Ottem, and Sarah Ottem; a special aunt: Jessie Smith; his special cousins from Norway: Roger Albrigtsen and family, Jorgen Jorgensen and family, Brit and Odd Henry, Ole and Kari Olsen, Kare and Anne Ottem, and Nikki Chu and family; and very special friends of the family: Hoyle D. Hyberger, the Michael and Dianne Miller family, the Rev. Greg and Mary Howell.

He was preceded in death by his brother: Archie Ottem; his mother: Madge Smith Ottem; his father: Johan E. Ottem; and a nephew: Shannon Ottem.

The family will receive friends from 1-3 and 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at Kiser-Rose Hill Funeral Home.

The funeral service will follow visitation at 7 p.m. in the funeral home chapel. The Rev. James W. Best, Dr. Bill Hall, and the Rev. Dr. David Green will officiate.

Family and friends will meet at 9 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home to go in procession to Mount Hebron Cemetery for a 10 a.m. committal service.

The Greene County Honor Guard and the Tennessee National Guard will conduct a military graveside service.

Pallbearers will be Jerry Ayers, Hart Covington, George Heppe, Jonas Hurley, Lloyd Morelock and William Patton.

Honorary pallbearers will be Dr. Rufus Breckenridge, Paul Cook, Guy Davis, James Holder, Bob Hurley, Nick Kidwell, and the members of the Elbert Kinser Marine Corps League, Detachment No. 615.

Memorials may be made to the ALS Association, Tennessee Chapter, P.O. Box 40244, Nashville, TN 37204 or at

Additional memorials may be made to First Baptist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 99, Greeneville, TN 37744.

Condolences may be sent to the Ottem family at

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