Richard Napoleon Ottaway
December 26, 1931 – March 23, 2020
Richard (“Dick”) Ottaway, retired minister and professor of business ethics, died after contracting the COVID-19 virus at age 88 on Monday, March 23, at Cape Cod Hospital in Barnstable, MA.
As the Boston Globe wrote in the paper’s ode to the passing of this longtime resident of Brewster, MA: “He was a man of God, a retired Episcopal priest, with a striking shock of white hair. He was a lover of oysters and wine, and a collector of bow ties, who treated the cultivation of friendships like a lifelong vocation.”
Richard Napoleon Ottaway was born in Ypsilanti, MI, on December 26, 1931, to Jack and Ruth (Montgomery) Ottaway. When he was 10 years old, the family moved to Wilmington, NC. The second of four siblings, he was the first member of his family to attend college, graduating from East Carolina College in 1954. Called to the priesthood, he then attended the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, graduating in 1958. During his studies he also served as a chaplain in the US Naval Reserves, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. Ottaway then began his sixty-years of work as an Episcopal priest by serving as a vicar in two small rural churches in Eastern North Carolina.
During the late 50s and early 60s, Ottaway undertook some of the most meaningful work of his life, establishing the Pitt County Inter-Racial Committee that successfully desegregated public facilities in North Carolina prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ottaway viewed this experience as seminal to the development of his faith, giving a shape and focus to his ministry. From this point onward his work was focused, in his words, on the “life-giving social structures of the community.”
In 1973, after a spell in Winston-Salem, NC, as a chaplain at both Wake Forest University and the newly formed North Carolina School of the Arts, Ottaway moved his young family to England to begin his appointment as a Visiting Lecturer of management at the University of Manchester. During his eight years in the UK, he received a PhD in Business Management, and met Elaine Davis, who would become his second wife, and who survives him.
In 1981, Dick and Elaine and their combined family of four young children returned Stateside, where he taught briefly at Rutgers University before accepting a tenured position at the School of Business Management at Farleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ. There he taught Business Ethics to countless MBA students until his retirement in 2009. Throughout his three decades of teaching, Ottaway also served as a priest in different NJ churches—viewing his life’s work as a bringing together of these two disparate worlds.
Upon retirement, Dick and Elaine moved full time to Brewster, MA, where he continued to serve as a priest at Christ’s Church Episcopal, even as he relished bird watching, throwing dinner parties for friends and family, keeping up with grandchildren, and pouring over his beloved New York Review of Books. Near the end of his life, Ottaway ruminated on what he saw as the connective tissue of all the disparate threads of his life: his every expanding idea of faith. In his words, his was a faith that gave one “a picture of the world,” which allowed life to have “a purpose, movement, and direction.”
He is survived by his wife Elaine; his brother David Ottaway and sister Sally Papp; his children James and Rebekah Ottaway; his stepdaughters Louise Asper and Rebecca Ashley; and his six grandsons.
Richard Napoleon Ottaway
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April 4, 2020
From my first days at Fairleigh Dickinson University to Dick’s retirement about 20 years later, Dick and I partnered to create bridges between academics, executives, students, and faculty. It was a joyful and exciting time.
One of the “bridges” we built was the Center for Human Resource Management Studies. Hartman Lounge overflowed with friends for the Friday morning monthly meetings of CHRMS. Dick was the MC, engaging the audience, personally greeting just about every attendee, and setting the stage for the speaker. The attributes that made him a beloved minister spilled over to his diverse roles at the University and had the effect of empowering and inspiring students, faculty, administrators, and many others.
I would like to share two examples of a special gift and an endearing expression that I associate with Dick. Soon after CHRMS was formed, an Executive Committee was assembled and a membership fee was proposed - a delicate topic. The meeting was about to end without a resolution of the issue when Dick decided to take the floor, and spoke in a way that challenged each person in attendance to do the right thing for themselves, their companies, and the University. The proposal passed, essentially assuring the years of success that followed for CHRMS.
In a similar way, years later, when we met with FDU’s President and his staff on a stormy day to challenge their decision to remove University support for CHRMS, Dick calmly worked his magic and, again, won the day. When I praised Dick for his powers of persuasion on such occasions, he responded with his trademark expression, delivered with a smile and a wink, “Come to Jesus.”
Rose and I cherish the time he and Elaine were a vital part of our lives and are grateful for the blessing of his presence in our lives as partner and personal friend. We have warm memories of Dick presiding over the marriage of our daughter Teresa & son-in-law Drew and later baptizing their three girls.
April 2, 2020
Even after a decade past retirement, Dick is still very much with us at Fairleigh Dickinson University. On a personal note, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say Dick changed my life when he hired me to teach at FDU. He developed a comprehensive course in Business Ethics, required for all business majors in their freshman year. Dick taught from his heart and cared about his students on a level we can all aspire to. For over two decades, I’ve tried to carry on his legacy and his goals to influence students of business to do the right thing.
Dick was all about building community, and our academic department was one place where his influence was greatly felt. It has been an honor to attempt to preserve the community and collaboration among our faculty that Dick built. He was a leader and role model for the School of Business but especially for the Management department.
Dick not only had a big heart, he was also fun as heck with a quick wit and always up for a big laugh. His North Carolina accent and the bow ties accentuated his unique character and adorable charm. He was able to connect with just about anyone he met. He left our family at FDU stronger and much better for him being in our lives. He will be missed.
April 1, 2020
Dick was one of the most important people in my life. I came to FDU from Rutgers in 1993 to join the Center for Human Resource Management (CHRMS) that Dick co-founded with Dan Twomey. It was a trail-blazing center that brought academics together with thoughtful practitioners in a mutually-respectful, co-creative environment; reflective of Dick's core values. It accomplished so many powerful things and it was a privilege to be part of it. Dick was the driving force behind the deeply spiritual quality of CHRM's work, especially the special Xmas-time breakfast session that we held every year. Dick was also a mentor to me as a colleague, friend, and administrator (Chair, Assoc. Dean). Through his kind and thoughtful way, he helped me to become a better educator and a much better person. And like so many others, I loved Dick's endless collection of quirky bow ties and the wonderful holiday parties that he and Elaine held at their warm and inviting home. His memory will always be a blessing!
March 27, 2020
Dick was a wonderful person who always had a kind word for everyone. He had a contagious smile on his face and seemingly effortlessly brought folks together. He will be fondly remembered. He had a huge impact on SCB. My thoughts and prayers are with you.