Frank Otto, a long-time Malverne resident who was very active in the village and his hometown, passed away Tuesday at the age of 72.
The Bronx-born Otto called the village of Malverne his home for nearly 30 years and was always working to make his community better.
He served on the board of the Malverne Civic Association and for most of 2009 and 2010, Otto over the changes to the traffic lights on Hempstead Avenue, near his home. The new system was creating long delays and causing cars to back-up for several blocks, blanketing the street with smog during the rush hours.
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"It's like being at the Triboro Bridge toll booth on Mother's Day. I can't stand to sit in front of my house," he told the village board at a meeting in November 2010, where . "I don't want to be the bad guy in Malverne, but if that's what it takes, then I'll do it. I"ll sue the County."
Deputy Mayor Joseph Hennessy knew Otto well.
"Frank always challenged the school budget every year ... Frank would challenge the village on the taxes and how people would afford to live here, but he did it because he cared, because he believed in what he as saying," Hennessy told Patch.
But Hennessy said Otto always had the best intentions.
"There was no animosity," he said. "I'd be at functions with Frank at his house or his neighbor's house and he was always a great friend."
Otto, who worked for many years in the airline industry, also arranged for a representative to come speak to the village board about how the construction of the Bay Runway at nearby JFK Airport would impact the community in 2010.
"Frank was a hard-working man ... he always tried to help," Hennessy added.
At the American Legion Post 44's annual Flag Day ceremony in Malverne Thursday, Hennessy also told residents that it was Otto who was responsible for the village's tradition of hanging American flags along its main street.
"Malverne has become known as the village that hangs the flag all along Hempstead Avenue and Church Street," Hennessy said, explaining that this practice was started a number of years ago after Otto made the suggestion at a village board meeting.
"As you ride down the street, remember it was started by a citizen who loved his country and his flag," he added.
But Otto didn't just work to make life better for the place he called home, he also gave back to the Bronx community he grew up in and his grammar school, St. Luke's, serving on the board of its foundation.
Hennessy added, "He was a positive activist for the best reasons and a good man."
A wake will be held Friday, June 15, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Flinch and Bruns (34 Hempstead Ave., Lynbrook). A funeral Mass will take place Saturday at 9:45 a.m. at in Malverne. Interment will follow at St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking anyone wishing to make such a donation that it be made to St. Luke's School.
Donations can be mailed to:
St. Luke's Educational Foundation, Inc.
St. Luke's School
608 East 139th Street
Bronx, New York 10454
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