Eva Blake Otjen, April 18, 1918 " Jan. 28, 2007
Eva Blake Otjen, died peacefully at the age of 88 in Tomball, Texas. Her family and friends will gather in Vail on Friday, June 22 to remember Eva, who friends and family said loved Vail. The rememberence will be 9 a.m. at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens followed by a picnic at the top of the gondola at Eagle’s Nest.
Her parents moved in 1914 from Columbus, Miss. to Ada, Okla. and founded one of the first 100 Coca-Cola Bottling companies. Their flair for Southern hospitality was instilled in their daughter Eva, friends and family said. Eva Harris Blake grew up in Ada and was the first girl to be elected student body president of Ada High School due in part to a campaign promise to host the first school dance. The promise was fulfilled after her election and began Eva’s career as the “hostess with the mostess,” friends and family said.
Eva rode in fox hunts and was an accomplished horsewoman. During four summers, when only a young girl, she traveled by train for three days to attend eight-week sessions at Camp Deerwood near Ashville, N.C., receiving riding lessons. She graduated from Gulf Park College for Women in Gulfport, Miss. with a degree in equestrian science. At Gulf Park College, Eva was elected Queen of the May, which was the highest honor her classmates could bestow. At the University of Oklahoma, Miss Blake attained a bachelor of science in home economics. She was a member of the OU polo team. She pledged Pi Beta Phi Sorority at OU and enjoyed participating in sorority alumna activities all her life. Eva was crazy about the Denver Broncos and OU football where she had seats on the 50-yard line for nearly 30 years, friends and family said. She acquired a lifelong zeal for fashion while modeling hats in New York City. No one wore a hat with more flair than Eva and she was seldom seen out of doors without a hat cocked just right, her family said.
Eva traveled extensively with her sister and parents, including a three-month tour of nine countries in Europe before World War II. She married William John Otjen, Jr. and dedicated more than 30 years of her life to her family and her home in Enid, Okla. In 1972, she returned to Ada until 1984 when she made her vacation home her permanent home at the Vail Racquet Club in Vail. According to her family, Eva loved promoting Vail and became a one-person chamber of commerce. She had a quick wit and listed her occupation as “Retired Volunteer” which she printed on her business cards.
She was active in the Vail Hospital Auxiliary, Vail Women’s Golf, and Duplicate Bridge. Eva was involved from the inception of the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, which fulfilled two of Eva’s passions: gardening and Republican politics. She fondly remembered kneeling in the dirt to plant flowers with former First Lady, Mrs. Gerald Ford in the Vail gardens, her family said.
Ms. Otjen preserved her family heritage and genealogy maintaining and adding to her collection of antiques inherited from generations of family. She was extremely talented in handicrafts, including knitting, needlepoint, sewing and gourmet cooking. She adored her faithful miniature dachshund, E.B. Eva’s boundless generosity, indomitable spirit, and matchless wisdom will be greatly missed by her entire family, her family said.
Eva’s survivors include her three children: LeMoine Otjen Dowd, of Longmont, Colo. and her children, Erin LeMoine Dowd and Clare Devine Dowd of Vail and Kelly Blake Dowd of Denver; William John Otjen, III of The Woodlands, Texas and his sons, William John Otjen, IV of Edmond, Oklahoma and Andrew Maury Blake Otjen currently serving in the US Army; and Agnes June Otjen of Laurel, Mont.
Donations in Eva Blake Otjen’s memory may be made to: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, 183 Gore Creek Drive, Vail, Colorado 81657 or through http://www.bettyfordalpinegardens.org. Contact the family at (303) 332-7665 for more details.
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