Paul Otto

Jen Gerger

by Mark Gilson

This was written by Paul in the early 1980’s as a background piece for a Perry High School reunion. Paul’s friendship with the Losely family in the early 1950s prompted them to move from Bainbridge to Perry, not far from Paul’s nursery on Lane Road. Paul has been gone for over twenty years but he is still remembered fondly by many in our local industry.

“My nursery career started in 1926 at the age of 12 when I started working at the R.A. Hacker Nursery, Park Rd., Painesville, a lining out specialist. We worked 10 hours a day, with a half hour for lunch and no other breaks during the day. I graduated from Perry High in 1932 and went to work for L.P. Brick Nursery, Park Road, Painesville at the age of 18. When I was 19 he contracted with a Canton, Ohio hardware store to sell his nursery stock with free advice from an expert, which was me. I looked young for my age and the customers had a hard time believing what I told them.

A couple of years later R.A. Hacker hired me as his foreman, with the agreement to pay me with lining out stock so I could get started on my own eventually, which I though was very unselfish. I ended up buying 20 acres of his Lane Road nursery in 1951, which is where I make my present home.

I started full time with my own nursery in 1937, but in 1941 had my name pulled out in the first drawing for the draft. I was given a 6-month extension to liquidate my nursery and was inducted into the army September 29, 1941, serving until discharged on November 13, 1945. When I started over again I developed what is known to the trade as “Euonymus Greenlane,” so named by Jim Zampini of Lake Co. Nursery Exchange who mentions its origin in their catalog. I retired in 1979.

Sometime around 1972 the International Plant Propagation Society of which I was a member was invited to England as a guest of the English chapter. Through their generosity, I visited a member whose nursery was located near the old army camp of the 3rd Armored Division in World War Two, in which I served. I was able to visit the camp from which we pushed off for Omaha Beach after the invasion. The buildings still stood and the camp was being used as a chicken farm!”

– Paul Otto