Ottie Austin Ladd, a Lakewood businessman and benefactor of local causes, was remembered this week as a caring man who didn’t seek credit for his many contributions of time and money.
Ladd died June 6 of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis at age 77.
Friends and relatives recalled Ladd providing a last-minute turkey dinner for 200 for a community event, giving envelopes of money to families in need, talking to animals everywhere he went and incessantly hunting for antique garden tools.
An Oklahoma native, Ladd had lived in Lakewood since his retirement from the Army in 1965.
He was a 42-year member of the Rotary Club of Tacoma No. 8, and president from 1984-85. He served on the boards for the Allenmore Hospital Foundation, the Tacoma Art Museum, Washington State Historical Society and Greater Lakes Mental Health.
He also was president of the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation from 1991-93.
This year, Ladd and his wife gave the Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound a large endowment to provide scholarships to high school students hoping to attend college.
“He had a very harsh background,” said Clara, his wife of 12 years. Ladd was one of five children; his mother was widowed when he was 2. “He wanted to make sure kids that had that same background got a head start.”
Miriam Barnett, executive director of the YWCA of Pierce County and a close friend of the Ladd family, saw Ladd’s philanthropy in many forms.
“It’s not just generosity in giving dollars,” said Barnett, remembering the many occasions when Ladd’s large contributions were instrumental in the Rotary Club meeting its fundraising goals.
“It was generosity in giving kindness too.”
“If he passed someone on the street begging, he’d never walk by without giving them something,” Clara Ladd said. “He would always try to help.”
Ladd owned 23 Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Pierce County, Spokane and Idaho. Rod Bolek, who has worked for KFC for 46 years, remembers a working environment of trust and respect under Ladd.
“We never worked for him, we worked with him,” Bolek said.
Ladd also was co-owner of the Capital Investments Corp. of Washington, a mortgage and lending company.
He is survived by his wife, Clara Kinner Ladd; three children, Rodney Ladd of Lakewood, Mindy O’Neill of Gig Harbor and Cori Beerman of Mill Valley, Calif.; six grandchildren; two sisters, Zonelle Pappan and Jan Jordan, both of Oklahoma; and his former wife, Barbara Ladd.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday at Mountain View Valley Chapel at 4100 Steilacoom Blvd. in Lakewood, followed by a reception at the Tacoma Golf and Country Club.
Leah Traxel: 253 597-8670