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Otto Vehle

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Otto Mitchell Vehle, a faithful servant of the Lord for many decades, was called home May 5, 2014, at the age of 92. There, he was reunited with his wife, who had been patiently and lovingly waiting for him for nearly two years. "Buddy" - who was indeed a buddy to many people - lived a life of service until his very last days. He served his communities, he served his nation, and he served his church and his Lord. Otto was born on March 16, 1922, in Sherman, Texas, which was his home base for 50 years. He became a licensed pilot while still attending Sherman High School and earned his commercial license in 1940. He was performing stunts in a North Texas air show on December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He joined the Civil Air Patrol, the first of many auxiliary-force roles he would play. In 1942, Otto received a direct commission as a second lieutenant and was assigned to the 5th Ferrying Group. Later stationed in North Africa, he would ultimately serve in all theaters of operation. After the war, he served in the Air Force Reserve until 1965, having achieved the rank of major. His marriage to Martha Louise Halliday gave him two children, a girl and a boy, and he later would marry Mary Grace Moffett, who had a grown daughter. Otto's postwar career fields were as varied as his wartime assignments, earning him recognition in commercial land development, advertising and public relations, television production, and security and volunteer law enforcement. He was the national director of the Reserve Law Officers Association of America, which began as a Texas organization that lobbied the Legislature for volunteer peace officers who wished to carry weapons. He also was editor of the association's magazine, Reserve Law. Otto had been serving as chief of Sherman's auxiliary police force in 1972 when he and Mary left their beloved hometown for San Antonio, Texas, where Otto served the Bexar County Sheriff Support Division for several years before transferring to the county's Precinct 3 Constable's Office and, later, to Precinct 4. At Castle Hills First Baptist Church, he was involved in its television ministry for many years and later directed the church's security team. In November 2013, when Otto was 91, the church honored his decades of service and bestowed on him the first-ever title of Director of Security Emeritus. In addition to his sister Louise Prather of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Otto is survived by his children, Vicki Smith and husband former Sheriff J.B. Smith of Tyler, Texas; Mitch Murray of McKinney, Texas; and Marti Rivers of San Antonio, along with numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and other special relatives.

THURSDAY, MAY 15, 2014
3:00 P.M.

His Earthly remains, along with those of Mary, will later be interred in West Hill Cemetery in Sherman.

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Published in Express-News on May 13, 2014
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