Joseph Blaz Ott, 83, of Fargo, ND, passed away peacefully at the Fargo Veteran’s Hospital with much of his family by his side on Saturday, February 5, 2022. Joe became ill with COVID-19 in September 2021 and since then had multiple complications as a result. Joe was born on January 21, 1939, on his family’s farm north of Belfield, ND. Joe was the 15th of 16 children born to John and Clara (Bosch) Ott. He grew up working on the farm with his siblings and parents. During that time, farm work was brutal; most was manual labor that lasted for many hours of the day and night. He honestly had to walk to school uphill both ways, living on the edge of the Badlands. His mother passed away when Joe was 14. Joe left the farm when he was 16, working in various jobs. In 1961, Joe was working as a lumberjack in Alaska when his draft number came up for the Vietnam War. Joe served two tours of duty in Vietnam as an engineer with a U.S. Army Special Forces unit. He received multiple commodations and awards for his time in Vietnam. Like many Veterans from the Vietnam War, Joe spoke little of the time he spent there. Instead, his military records spoke of the man Joe was and the person that his family and friends all knew. He was a dedicated and loyal soldier, family man, and person. In 1968, Joe’s brother Vince and sister-in-law Betty set him up on a blind date with Elsie Steffan of Dickinson. That blind date at a bowling alley in Dickinson resulted in a 53-year marriage—Joe and Elsie were married on July 16, 1969, at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Dickinson. Joe continued to serve in the U.S. Army, which took them to California. In 1970, Elsie gave birth to their firstborn, Paul, while Joe was stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco. Joe then left active duty and the family moved to Washington State where their second child, Becky, was born. After a short time, they moved back to Dickinson where their last child, Shelley, was born. Joe once again worked a variety of jobs while the family lived in Dickinson. He was a Culligan man, worked in the oil fields, and also drove charter buses. Joe cherished his family and spending time with them was the greatest gift he had. He also enjoyed playing Pinochle, fishing, camping, and was in numerous pool leagues. Joe and Elsie were long time members of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Dickinson. Joe continued his military service in the North Dakota National Guard after moving back home. He ultimately achieved the rank of 1st Sargent and spent a total of 26 years in the military, 10 years on active duty and 16 years in the N.D. National Guard. Joe and Elsie moved to Fargo in 2016 and up until the time of his medical issues in the fall of 2022, Joe was active and spent as much time as he could with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by all that knew him, especially his family. Joe was preceded in death by his parents, 13 of his siblings, and too many of his nieces and nephews. He is survived by his sisters Susan Messmer of Spearfish, SD, and Jenny Graff of Ft. Meyers, FL, wife Elsie, son Paul (Kathy) of Herreid, SD, daughters Becky (Bob) Tretter and Shelley (Jay) Metzger both of Argusville, ND, grandchildren Ray (Katie) Dworshak, Wenonah (Brody) Van Vugt, Tyrel, Breana, Jack, Kayla, and Matthew, great-grandchildren Emerson, Jade, Roman, and Merrik, many brother and sister-in-law’s, nieces, and nephews. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to any Veterans’ organization.

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  1. He was such a heroic man. I’m honored to have had him as an Uncle. So many cherished memories. He’ll live on in our hearts forever. Much love to Aunt Elsie and his family. May our Lord comfort you all during this terribly difficult time.

  2. I have so many fond memories of Joe, going back at least 35 years. He was a wonderful man, which is why his passing creates such a sense of loss and grief. May all who knew him find peace and an infinite capacity to hold love in their heart. Blessings to all.

    – Kris (Pershy) Frank & Family

  3. Sincerely sorry to learn of the Ott family’s loss. At this time no words will take away the sadness all are feeling; so I will hope that the fine memories of Mr. Ott will give everyone the needed comfort to help them get through this difficult time. In God’s loving care, Mr. Ott rests. Isaiah 26:19, Psalms 37:29 Prayers for the family.

  4. Uncle Joe was such a wonderful, sweet and caring man. He will be missed by many, but not ever forgotten.
    He had the best sense of humor and was always a pleasure to be around, we know he is in Heaven and probably playing cards with his Brother’s and Sister’s. Our hearts go out to Aunt Elsie and his family and Vern and I are thinking about them at this time. Uncle Joe will forever be in our hearts, he was one of the good ones and such a good soul.

  5. I served with Joe in Vietnam, I am so sorry for your loss I always enjoyed visiting with him he was a good man and will miss him

  6. Praying for peace and comfort for the entire family. Uncle Joe is part of so many good memories and we love you all. Hugs to everyone especially Aunt Elsie. – Gary and Sharon Kiwimagi

  7. From the Philip Obrigewitsch family, my dad was Joes 1st cousin.

    Many prayers and blessings, go out to your family at this time!

    Bernie obrigewitsch.

  8. I had the privilege of serving with Joe in the NDNG. He was a character and could always brighten your day. May he rest in peace and God be with you all.

  9. Elsie and family, so sorry for your loss we enjoyed our visits with Joe when he drove bus to Deadwood. when we were hostess. always very friendly great person.our thoughts and prayers are with during this difficult time. Hugs to all the fam.

  10. To the family: Sorry for your loss. Joe was my 1st sargent in the national gaurd and was a friend. I only have the fondest of memories of him, I will keep you all in my prayers and hope God sends you comfort.

  11. What a beautiful obituary! I did not know Joe personally but Julie and I know the Tretter and Metzger families and now understand where hard work, the love of family and community comes from. Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers.

  12. Elsie and family, this is Carl Cooper, who served with Joe in the Dickinson NDNG unit. I always had the utmost respect for “Top” as I called him, he was a great leader in our unit!! I was in the mess section for many years and
    I remember one time at summer camp, we had made a batch of cookies,and he was in for a cup of coffee. i offered him a fresh cooky and as he took a bite I asked him how it was. He responded kindly and politely that it would be better dunked in some coffee. He had a Good sense of humor.

  13. I’m sorry to hear about your loss. I was a soldier in the NDARNG, thats how I met Joe. He was the Senior !SGT in the 164thEGB and I was the Junior 1SGT in HHC 164th Bn. Great guy lots of stories, not sure about the truth in some, but very entertaining just the same.

  14. I enlisted in the NDARNG when I was 17 and 1st Ott was my first introduction to what a 1st Sgt was. I remember how he was a role model and mentor to us young soldiers.

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