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Letter: thankful for a lifetime of generosity

Posted on Dec. 26, 2013 ( comments)

Dear Colleagues, Donors, Friends and Supporters,

Imagine two little boys, best friends during the Great Depression, who always stuck together, even though one of them, born with club feet, couldn’t run and play with the other neighborhood kids – a child whose mother worked long, hard hours late into the night just to keep her family fed and clothed – a child whose family could never afford surgery.

Now imagine the kindness of a surgeon and the hospital staff who corrected the deformed feet and cared for the child free of charge – and imagine the shared joy as these two little boys played ball and kick-the-can with other kids, and always ran together. It was a joy that Morrie Ottren, the best friend of the child who received charity care, never, ever forgot.

Albert M. Ottren (Morrie) and his good friend both grew into able young men who served their country in World War II. Morrie stayed close to his humble roots, living frugally in a small, tidy house in Tacoma’s Hilltop, working for Puget Sound Plywood, and saving for a rainy day – or another Great Depression.

The most beautiful gifts are given in joy

I have never been sure if Morrie adopted us, or we adopted him. Never married and eventually retired, he preferred solitude and cherished his privacy. He claimed to be a mall walker, but he walked around the mall on the outside, steering clear of people. I think that even outdoors, his footsteps were always quiet. But his footprint was deep and permanent, as you consider his gift to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.

He visited us here at Mary Bridge Children’s Foundation years ago to set up a Charitable Gift Annuity. He wanted to share the joy he remembered from so long ago when doctors and nurses helped his childhood friend; he wanted to share it with us and with children who need help now. We became friends, and visited often enough to overcome his initial shyness. Through the years, we all came to appreciate the bounce in his light-footed step, the twinkle in his eyes as he let us in on his secrets, his love of apple pie and his devotion to honeycrisp apples – and to children in need of our care.

Morrie Ottren passed away in April 2013, at age 92. He is buried in the Tahoma National Cemetery, in recognition of his military service. Through the charitable annuity during his lifetime, and from the proceeds from his estate, he contributed well over 1 million dollars to Mary Bridge Children’s Foundation.

Thank you, Morrie, for giving with joy.

Sara J. Long

Vice President, Foundations of MultiCare

To make your gift to the Mary Bridge Children's Foundation, visit

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