Update: Otto Stanley Mystery

It’s crazy how quickly a situation can progress.  Since writing last week about my great grandfather (you can read the first part of the story by clicking here) and the questions that lingered around who he was, where he was buried and his other children, I’ve received a great deal of information that helps fill in the gaps.

One of the existing cousins that I had recently been in touch with had dug around to find two photos of Otto.  One of him at the retirement home (at 97 years old) where he apparently lived for over 9 years before passing and another, with his second family prior to leaving them for his third wife.

To be able to see the family he left shortly after taking this photo was quite sobering.  I see stories in all of them and wonder what was going on at the time to cause Otto to leave the children he raised behind.  I did more digging on the last remaining child of Otto (the little girl pictured above with the beautiful big bow) and found her husband’s obituary.  I scanned the names again of her children and reached out to one of them (another first cousin, once removed) on Facebook.  I shared the photo of her great grandparents which she subsequently shared with her mother who had never seen a photo of her grandparents back in Newfoundland.  By reaching out to her, I was able to obtain more information than I ever anticipated. She asked me if the writer of this letter that her mother received back in 1981 was my father.  I quickly recognized the handwriting and the names of my two half-siblings (another story for another day).

It appears that my biological father did know of his long lost aunt and uncles and attempted to get in touch with them before I was born.  Interesting.  Both sides knew of one another.  After learning more, I learned that Otto went 30+ years without talking to the children he left behind.  When I first wrote about his story, my first inclination was not to judge him. I didn’t know the full story and deep down, I had hoped that he stayed in touch with his children regardless of whether or not his marriage worked out. This seems to not be the case.  I can’t imagine ever being able to do that as a parent but history tends to repeat itself.

I received the below document (along with his official death certificate) which indicates that he was indeed buried at the original cemetery that I had contacted.  I’ve since reached out to the town to ask for them to re-check their records as it looks like they erroneously informed me last month.

Perhaps it’s true – he had no one to fill in his death date on the gravestone not because he had no family left but because the family he did have left, he had completely abandoned.   From what I heard, in his old age – he attempted to make amends via a phone call with several of those children he had left behind. With that said, does a descendant of Otto Stanley, whose negative actions likely trickled down to not only affect but likely result her birth, finish the engraving of his headstone?  To close the chapter of his existence on this earth? Is he deserving of it?  One would argue that he’s not necessarily evil but just made the wrong decisions.  His headstone will likely sit there untouched with no death date to complete his story for generations to come if I don’t act.  As a human, I think he deserves it.  Perhaps wherever he is, he’ll realized he missed out on a whole lot in life – including people who still choose to care without knowing him long after he’s gone.

**To read the third and final installment of this story, visit A Chapter Closed – Otto & His Final Resting Place**


  1. That’s a tough question. If you are able to help though, it may provide closure for you and the rest of the family. Sometimes, the more I’m able to learn about an ancestor’ s life, it helps me appreciate their back story better, and why they made some of the choices they did.

    1. That’s my goal. It has tricked down to result in my existence, so I’m appreciative of that if anything. I’m uncovering quite a bit on this journey and connecting others in the process. No regrets! 🙂

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