SEPTEMBER 24, 2019 Wendell Harrell Ott, of Greensboro, North Carolina, passed away at UNC Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 after a battle with a bone marrow cancer fought with courage and grace. Wendell, age 79, was born on his family's farm near Osyka, MS to Clifford Davis Ott and Hortense Harrell Ott. He graduated from Osyka High School and went on to obtain a B.S. degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, an MSW degree from Tulane University and his J.D. degree, with honors, from the University of North Carolina School of Law. In law school he served as the Managing Editor of the NC Law Review. While still in high school, Wendell joined the Army National Guard and served eight years (in Mississippi and Idaho) after which he was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant. In his undergraduate years, he worked for three summers for the U.S Forest Service in the St. Joe National Forest in northern Idaho and developed life-long love of the Northwest and fly fishing in remote wilderness areas. After college, he worked for three years for the Idaho Welfare Department, including two years as County Welfare Director in two counties. This experience produced an understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty that influenced the remainder of his life. During his time as County Welfare Director he made friendships which enriched his life over the subsequent decades. Wendell met his wife Phyllis at Tulane University where they both earned MSW degrees and worked for two more years. Drawn back out West, he accepted an Assistant Professor position with the Social Work Program at Colorado State University in 1969. Their son Michael was born in Ft. Collins the following year. After three years in Colorado, Wendell decided to pursue a law degree. He attended UNC Law School in Chapel Hill, NC. There he made another group of lasting friendships, including camping and fly fishing buddies with whom he had many memorable experiences both in NC and out West. After Law School, Wendell secured employment with a Greensboro law firm in 1976 and developed, in part based on his pre-law experiences, a specialty practice representing non-profit hospitals in their dealings with payors. This eventually led to Wendell and his colleagues forming a firm (Ott, Cone & Redpath, PA) devoted exclusively to health law practice. Wendell was widely recognized as a leading health lawyer in North Carolina. He was committed to and proud of his practice, and particularly proud of his contributions to the financial ability of his hospital clients to provide safety-net services to uninsured and low-income patients. He retired in 2014. Having grown up in a Southern Baptist church (Wendell) and in a non-denominational church (Phyllis), Wendell and Phyllis were affiliated with other religious organizations before discovering a community of worshipers at New Garden Friends Meeting with whom they became deeply and meaningfully involved. This warm, welcoming and inclusive group contributed to their spiritual journey and provided many opportunities for service within the Meeting and in the broader community. When asked how long he had been a Quaker, Wendell's stock response was "All my ife, but didn't discover that until ten years ago." Particularly significant for Wendell was his involvement in the formation and maintenance of the Friendship Community Partnership. The latter is an informal association of New Garden Friends Meeting with four other nearby churches, three of which are predominantly African American churches. This group has engaged over several years in a broad array of joint activities including service, worship and fellowship, producing lasting friendships and enhanced understanding. Wendell was pre-deceased byhis parents and his oldest sister, Carol Ott Zarich (Joe). Surviving is his beloved wife, Phyllis, of 53 years, his son Michael C. Ott, daughter-in-law Erika Fritz Ott and three wonderful grandsons: David, Jonathan, and Zachary. Also surviving are his siblings William T. Ott, Clifford D. Ott Jr. (Marti), Steve E. Ott (Maureen), C. Phillip Ott, Linda Ott Wall (Charles), Cherie Ott Johansen (Paul) and Fleet James Ott (Maria). A private graveside service was held on October 5, 2019 at the Osyka Cemetery in Osyka, MS, where Wendell's parents and several generations of his ancestors are interred. A celebration of life service will be held at New Garden Friends Meeting in Greensboro, NC on November 23, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Caring Bridge, or a charity of the donor's choice. Online remembrances may be made on Caring Bridge. Triad Cremation & Funeral Service 2110 Veasley St., Greensboro NC 27407
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