We Remember Ottilie Baer, Beloved Volunteer at Helen Woodward Animal Center
Ottilie Baer was one of our most dedicated, longest serving volunteers at Helen Woodward Animal Center. Ottilie began volunteering in 1995, and for the past 18 years, came each and every week, hardly ever missing a shift, to assist us with mailing thank you letters to our donors. She kept meticulous records in her notebook at her desk, which revealed that in total, she gave nearly 3,000 hours of her time to the Center over the years. Despite the fact that she was 90-years-old, her attention to detail never wavered, and we always counted on her for “quality control” because we knew with her doing the final check, nothing would ever go out incorrectly or be overlooked. She always said she liked the work because it kept her sharp, but it was clear that we were the lucky ones!
Through the time we spent with Ottilie, we knew she was an incredible woman. She spoke seven languages, had been a businesswoman prior to retiring, and was incredibly intelligent as well as caring and warm, and of course, loved animals. For the past several years Abby, her little dog adopted from the Center, was her constant companion.
Ottilie’s Life, from Germany to Del Mar, California
Michael Breuer, a close family friend of Ottilie’s recently shared her full story with us, and confirmed that she did indeed lead an amazing life. Ottilie grew up in Munich before escaping Nazi Germany during the horrors of the Holocaust at age of fifteen. She lost her father at a younger age, and came to the United States with her mother and sister, initially settling in Milwaukee. She learned the language, went to school, and when the US entered the war, volunteered with the Red Cross rolling bandages. She eventually moved to Manhattan, where despite never having had the chance to go to college, she worked her way up and became an executive/manager in the import-export business, often traveling the world with her beloved Schnauzer, Fritzie. Eventually, after she retired, she moved to the warmer climate of Del Mar, California. We were told signing up to volunteer at Helen Woodward Animal Center was one of the first things she did to get involved in her new community. She was a caring and loyal friend to many, and was someone who was always there when you needed her.
As Mr. Breuer put it, “What a life – what a person!” and we couldn’t agree more. Ottilie was a truly special person who touched so many lives. While we will miss seeing her and Abby heading down the hall to their desk each week, we are so grateful to have had the chance to have her as part of our “family” here at the Center, and will continue to be inspired by her memory for many years to come.