November 1, 2016

"Morris Ottman, 25-Year Principal at Pound Ridge Elementary School, Honored by His Son"

[Reprinted by popular demand, here is my Bedford/Pound Ridge Record-Review profile on Morris Ottman.]

 Graduation diplomas have been received, mortarboards sent aloft have landed, and memories of school are put to rest at this mid-point in the summer. 
For former Pound Ridger Tom Ottman, whose father, Morris Ottman, was principal at Pound Ridge Elementary School for 25 years, fond memories of the School live on 41 years later.
“Growing up in the small town environment of Pound Ridge was the perfect experience for a kid who loved the outdoors,” wrote Tom Ottman. He grew up on Hack Green and Tatomuck Roads until he was 18 years old and graduated from Fox Lane High School with Class of 1979. Now living in Charlotte, N.C., with Lois, his wife of 33 years, Tom is a kidney transplant survivor and grateful to be sharing his story about his youth in a town that is often referred to as “God’s Country.”
“During my father’s memorable career (1948-1973), he had great impact on the community, oversaw several additions to PRES and pioneered the 5th Grade Trip to Washington. “ Ottman wrote of his father, whose objective was to be responsible to students, parents and the community he loved.
(Left to right): Morris Ottman, 25-year principal at Pound Ridge Elementary School; Herb Pittman, former math teacher at Fox Lane High School, and Buffalo Bob Smith, Pound Ridge resident and creator of "The Howdy Doody Show," at PRESS ball field in 1953.

“My dad was involved in all of the civic organizations in town and helped many families through difficult times,” Ottman continued. “One of my great life lessons came from his involvement with charity. He organized the canned and non-perishable food drive at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I remember going to PRES with him on nights and weekends to organize the donations into gift baskets. We would make sure that each one contained a sampling of all the different goods: meat, vegetables, sugar, flour and cereal. From the money donated, I remember picking up turkeys and hams with Dad and making sure that each basket got one. We would then drive around town in rain and snow, down muddy dirt driveways, to deliver the baskets to families of some of my classmates.
“No one ever asked for this, my dad just knew which of our townsfolk were in need,” Ottman wrote. “He never sought any recognition: his thanks were in simply doing a good deed. I have sought – sometimes successfully and sometimes lacking – to emulate my father’s charitable spirit.”
There continues to be an outpouring of affection for Morris Ottman on a Facebook page called, “You Know You’re From Pound Ridge When …” The lively dialogue includes:
“We loved Mr. Ottman and will always remember the 5th grade trip to Washington, D.C.,” wrote Lisa Powley Batzinger. “I still have the picture taken of our class on the steps of the Capitol Building.”
“He was the best!” added Jane Rainsford.
“Mr. Ottman was a great man and principal. Really involved at PRES, not just as a figurehead behind a desk,” wrote Alyson Bolton.
“Mr. Ottman defined the word ‘principal’ for me,” Kim Grover added to the lengthy paradigm.
This heritage lives on each year when PRES awards The Morris Ottman Memorial Scholarship Award (initially launched in 1957 as the Pound Ridge Elementary School Association Scholarship, and renamed in 1997) to deserving Fox Lane seniors who live in the area and attended PRES. Criteria for the $1,000 award are high academic achievement, school/community service and/or work outside school and financial need. The 2013-2014 recipients of the award are Alana Fitz, Charlotte Herber and Jordan Pasetsky.
“There was a tremendous outpouring of love from residents and so many of my father’s former teachers when he passed away from kidney disease in 1976,” wrote Ottman. “And although he has been gone from Pound Ridge for more than four decades, Morris Ottman continues to be recognized for his 25-year long career of excellence and achievement at PRES.
“It’s important for me to keep alive this memory so that future recipients of The Morris Ottman Scholarship Award know for whom the award is named. With this recognition, the legacy of my father and his love for, commitment to and impact on the town of Pound Ridge continues to be honored. This year’s recipients of the Award are truly carrying forth the goodness and generosity of my father.”


To learn more about the history of Pound Ridge, you'll enjoy reading my book, 
Pound Ridge Past: Remembrances of Our Townsfolk. For second edition, author signed copies, contact me at 


Anonymous said...

I can remember when Whitey became our principal. My best memory is when he agreed to coach a girl's softball team. We had to create a girl's ball field and borrowed mitts from the boys. Whitey was a great coach and a great supporter of girl's sports.

Bonni Brodnick said...

I've heard only the best about Mr. Ottman! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recollection.

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