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Otto Friedrich Gerstenberger

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Gerstenberger, Otto Friedrich COLONIE Otto Friedrich Gerstenberger, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend died Friday, January 4, 2013, after a brief illness. His devoted wife, Nancy and brother, Hansi were by his side. Otto and Nancy were happily married for more than 57 years. He was the loving Papa of four children, Karen, Ingrid, Conrad and Sonja. He also was the wonderful Opa of eight grandchildren. Otto/Papa/Opa/Ottchen was the kindest, sweetest, most loving and generous person. He thought the best of everyone and would assist anyone who needed a helping hand. He will live on in our hearts and memories. Otto lived by the principles of hardwork, be a help not a burden, give unselfishly to family and friends, in every bleak situation there can be found some positive aspect, and the only thing to do is the right thing. Otto was born September 12, 1929 in Long Island. He was the fifth of eight children of Hans and Anna Madauss Gerstenberger. In 1934, when Otto was five years old, he moved to Leipzig, Germany with his family. Otto lived through the horrors of World War II, which led him to be a staunch believer in world peace. In 1946, when he was 17, Otto and his younger brother Gerhard, who was only 15, were allowed to leave what was then East Germany since they were U.S. citizens and to come to America. Otto worked hard and saved his money so it was possible to eventually help the rest of his family also come to America. In 1947, Otto moved to Albany and began working at the Albany Felt Company, now known as Albany International. Other than the two years he spent in the Army, Otto was with Albany International for his entire career before retiring after 37 years at the age of 55. Otto was an ambitious self-starter. He started in the buildings and grounds department, quickly transferred to a weaving set-up position, then taught himself weaving during break times and became a weaver in his first three years at the company. Otto eventually became supervisor of the weave room. Otto loved soccer. He played as a boy in Germany for the Leipzig Soccer Club and once was a guest player on the German National team. Otto almost missed his opportunity to leave Germany after the war because he was playing soccer. In America, Otto played soccer in the Army. He also played soccer for the Albany Sport Club, Albany Athletic Club and the German American Club for more than 22 years, winning many championships. He also was a referee for college and high school soccer games for 20 years. Opa also loved watching his grandchildren play soccer and went to all of their games. In addition to soccer games, he enjoyed going to all the different sporting events in which his children and grandchildren participated. Otto also was a board member for the German American Club and was the financial secretary for many years. He also was a member of the Schenectady Turner Club and the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club. Otto and Nancy began running together in 1977. They competed in many local 5K,10K and 15K road races. In 1990, Otto and Nancy ran the Hudson Mohawk Marathon at the age of 60. Otto met his wife Nancy in 1948 playing tennis in Washington Park in Albany. They dated until separating in 1950 when Otto joined the Army and Nancy joined the Navy. In 1954, they met up again once again while playing tennis in Washington Park. They were married July 2, 1955. Otto and Nancy lived their entire married lives in their home in Colonie. Otto loved making home improvements and doing projects and yardwork. He loved hosting family picnics and dinners. His greatest joy was his family. He would do anything to help any of them, including babysitting, petsitting and home improvement projects. Otto was the family historian and photographer, creating numerous photo albums over the years. Otto also loved all animals, especially his dogs, cats and the backyard birds he always fed. Otto loved to travel, often returning to Leipzig, and spent many family summer vacations in Ocean City, N.J. Although not formally educated, he was a lifelong learner and avid reader. He also enjoyed the mornings he spent visiting with his brothers Hansi and Gerhard at McDonalds. Otto is survived by his wife, Nancy Maguire Gerstenberger. He is also survived by his children, Karen Gerstenberger and Patrick Dwyer of Colonie, Ingrid and Nnamdi Davis of Waldorf, Md., Conrad and Kimberlee Gerstenberger of Esperance, and Sonja and Steve Maloney of Loudonville. Otto has eight grandchildren, Evan and Carlin Dwyer, Laura and Julia Maloney, Garrett and Liesel Davis, and Jacqui and Racquel Gerstenberer. He is survived by his brothers, Hans Gerstenberger of Colonie, and Karl-Heinz Gerstenberger of Clifton Park, and his sister, Gertrude Miller of Schenectady. Otto was predeceased by his parents; his brothers, Hermann Gerstenberger, Helmut Gerstenberger and Gerhard Gerstenberger; his sister, Charlotte Thiele, and his brothers-in-law, Ralph Maguire and Thomas Miller. He is also survived by sisters-in-law, Bonnie Maguire, Marianne Gerstenberger, and Charlotte Gerstenberger and his brother-in-law, Erich Thiele. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews. The family would like to thank the nurses, doctors and staff at Albany Medical Center for their extraordinary care and comfort during a difficult time. Friends are invited to visit with Otto's family at the Reilly & Son Funeral Home, Colonie on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 from 4 to 8 p.m. Friends and family will gather after the service at the German American Club on Cherry Street in Colonie. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the German American Club.
Published in Albany Times Union from Jan. 6 to Jan. 8, 2013
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