WAYNE — Dennis Otte and Bob Addison both lived in Wayne. Otte served in Vietnam and Addison supported those who did serve.
When the men underwent treatment for cancer, they sat by each other to receive chemotherapy. When they died this spring and funerals were banned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both of their wives planned memorial drives as special ways to remember them.
Julie and Bob Addison were married 19 years when he died March 31 after struggling with small cell lung cancer for a decade. A truck driver and school bus driver for many years, Bob’s remains were cremated, and Julie planned what she refers to as “one last cruise.”
His ashes were placed in an urn with an image of a motorcycle and the words, “Riding free now,” on the front for the April 18 drive-by.
When Julie put an announcement on Facebook about the memorial for her husband, his friends and family brought five blocks’ worth of vehicles, including eight semi-trucks to process together. A semi with Bob’s ashes led the procession; Julie rode in the second semi in line.
They gathered at Victor Park at Wayne, made several passes down Wayne’s Main Street and returned to the park. There, Julie distributed Bob’s funeral bulletins.
Julie found that the event offered a form of closure. “It was humbling,” she said, “because so many came.” A celebration of life also will be Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Addisons’ farm home.
Dennis Otte died on May 15, with burial at the Omaha National Cemetery. His wife, Kerry, planned a tribute drive in lieu of visitation.
A member of the VFW in Laurel and the American Legion in Winside, Dennis had been instrumental in the placement of a veterans memorial at the Wayne County Courthouse. Dedicated in 2010, the memorial lists 3,300 veterans from the county, beginning with the War of 1812. Dennis also was recognized by the State of Nebraska for making thousands of handmade poppies for National Poppy Day.
Because of her husband’s active veteran involvement, Kerry planned for a May 31 memorial procession to drive by the Wayne County Courthouse. She ran an announcement on the radio and in the newspaper, plus listed the drive on the Hasemann Funeral Home website.
She placed the urn with her husband’s cremains and a 1966 Army helmet on a table near the memorial. As family and friends drove by, she greeted them and handed out obituaries to each. Some stopped to view the memorial and listen to the program presented by the American Legion Riders from Beemer, Bloomfield and Norfolk. Former district court judge Bob Ensz played taps.
Julie Addison and Kerry Otte both thought the memorial drives would have been something of which their husbands approved.
“I told the bikers,” Kerry said, “that Dennis would have been so humbled and so honored.”