Obituary: Ottiwell Jones

otiwell jones obit.jpg
Posted at 1:47 PM, Jun 17, 2024

Ottiwell “O.W. or Ott," 91, passed away peacefully on May 23, 2024, surrounded by his loving family in his Bozeman, Montana home. Born on June 13, 1932, in San Francisco, he was the son of the late Ottiwell Wood Jones Jr. and Katherine McCue Jones.

After graduating from high school at the San Rafael Military Academy, Ott attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a B.S. in Zoology. It was there that he met his beloved wife, Elita Marie Patton. They were married on September 2, 1956, in Auburn, California. Ott went on to attend medical school at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. Upon graduation in 1958, he was presented with the Gold Headed Cane Award. This award is the highest honor awarded to a member of the graduating class who best exemplifies the qualities of a "true physician" and is chosen by fellow classmates and faculty. Following his internship at UCSF, the newlyweds left their native California with a newborn baby and ventured east, where Ott served at the National Institutes of Health from 1959–1961. He returned to San Francisco in 1961 to complete his residency training in ophthalmology at UCSF.

In 1964, with three children in tow, Ott and Elita moved to Spokane, WA, where he joined the Spokane Eye Clinic as a retina and cataract specialist. In keeping with his collegial nature and ongoing pursuit of medical expertise, Ott co-founded the Aspen Retinal Detachment Society (ARDS) in 1972. Alongside one of his best friends, William O. Edward MD, Bill and Ott launched the ARDS to advance the field of retinal surgery by gathering an international group of ophthalmology leaders to share knowledge and exchange ideas. The ARDS became legendary for its in-depth coverage of subjects, lively discussion periods, and outstanding faculty. The revolutionary practices introduced so many years ago are still operational today. He was immensely proud of the ARDS and continued his involvement well into retirement. Throughout Ott’s thirty-three-year medical career, he continued to exemplify the qualities of a true physician with his compassion, medical expertise, and service to his community.

Apart from his passion for medicine, Ott’s family was his pride and joy. He was a devoted husband of 67 years, a wonderful father, grandfather, and friend. He enjoyed supporting and going to horse shows with his daughters, hunting and fishing with his son and grandsons, and cheering for his wife and children at tennis matches. He always showed up for his family and friends and deeply cherished those friendships. He exemplified kindness, integrity, humility, and resiliency in the way he lived his life and treated others.

Ott was forever a good Samaritan. He went out of his way to help people—some he didn’t even know—to make things better for them. Once, during a snowstorm, a woman and her children were stuck in a ditch. He stopped and pulled them out, only to have her car hit his. When the woman told him that she would like to pay for the repairs, Ott replied, “Don’t worry about it; I’m glad you are safely out of the ditch." This was the way he lived his life and treated others with kindness and respect.

Ott was an avid outdoorsman and loved to hunt, fish, and be in nature. In 1969, he and Elita built a cabin on Lake Pend Oreille, near Sandpoint, Idaho. His family and friends enjoyed lake life for decades. He was a long-time member of the Calispell Duck Club in eastern Washington, where he, his son, friends, and his beloved Labrador retrievers enjoyed waterfowling. His hunting adventures also took him to eastern Montana and Oregon, where he loved to chase pheasants, chukar, and sharp-tailed grouse. An accomplished fly fisherman, Ott fell in love with Montana and built a home on Ennis Lake in 2000. For the past 25 years, Ott and Elita enjoyed this magical place together, watching moose, swans, pelicans, foxes, badgers, trout, sunsets, and rainbows. It was always a great ongoing show by Mother Nature.

Ott took tremendous pride in teaching his son, grandsons, and adult daughters how to fly fish. They enjoyed early mornings at his angler’s workbench, casting lines late into the afternoon, and sharing fishing secrets at the dinner table. His passion and respect for nature were always palpable. Ott harvested his last antelope at age 90 with his son and grandsons at his side.

Although this remarkable man will be dearly missed, he will live on in all our hearts and through the many lives he touched and forever changed. May we see through the twinkle in his eyes, live through his heart, and know his life was well lived.

“This, above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, scene 3, 78–8

Ott is survived by his wife, Elita Patton Jones; sister, Ann Jones Tooth; children, Ottiwell W. Jones IV (Joan), Suzanne Robinson (Rob), Pamela Burrows, and Teresa Mann (Terry); grandchildren, Courtney Sward (Eli), Collin Jones, Kyle Jones, Kelsey Jones, Hania Burrows (Alex), Lucas Burrows, Colter Robinson (Megan), Trey Robinson, Lila Mann, June Mann, and Drew Mann; step grandchildren, Jennifer Parsons (Sean) and Corey Robinson (Annie); great-grandchildren, Ainsley Sward and Winston Sward; step great-grandchildren Rylan Parsons, Reagan Parsons, Ryker Parsons, Rourke Parsons, Bailey Robinson, and Charley Robinson. He was predeceased by his brother, Charles McCue Jones.

A celebration of Ott's life will take place at their home in Ennis later this summer.

In remembrance of Ott’s life, charitable donations can be made to:

Madison River Foundation 406.682.3148

PO Box 1527, Ennis, MT 59729

Warriors and Quiet Waters 406.585.9793

351 Evergreen Drive, Suite A

Bozeman, MT 59715