Alan Ott, also known as “Mr. Midland,” cared about community just as much as he cared about his family. Ott died Sunday, Jan. 12.
When asked about what Ott was like in person, SVSU President Don Bachand said he was a quiet and humble man.
“I lived in Midland for many years and saw him regularly in the community,” Bachand said. “He was humble and had a big heart. He was quiet… but when he had something to say, everyone listened.”
Ott grew up in Manistique, Michigan, but found himself in Clare after serving in the army during the Korean War.
He had a successful career in banking and was influential at the Chemical Bank and Trust Company, where he started working in 1962.
He became the bank’s fifth president, which helped him influence his community as well.
Ott showed his love for his community by making countless donations over the years, many of which directly benefited SVSU.
“Mr. Ott’s generosity to SVSU came both personally and as part of his service to the Gerstacker Foundation,” Bachand said. “The foundation has made many gifts to SVSU over the years, including the renovations to our swimming pool, now known as the Gerstacker Regional Aquatics Center, and Zahnow Library, which now includes the Gerstacker Learning Commons. Those gifts would not have materialized without his support.”
Ott also made donations that helped bring the Ott Auditorium to SVSU. He was involved with SVSU beyond making donations to the school and foundations that help support it.
“(Ott) was a true community servant who shared his time and intellect with many organizations, including SVSU,” Bachand said. “He served on the Board of Directors for the SVSU Foundation for eight years. During this time, he helped us receive many significant donations from others.”
Ott didn’t attend SVSU himself, but his daughter did. He understood the importance SVSU served for both the Saginaw and Midland communities.
“The primary motivation for the involvement of ‘Mr. Midland,’ as he was affectionately known, was his understanding that a strong SVSU is critical to the health and vitality of Midland and the entire Great Lakes Bay Region,” Bachand said.
The legacy Ott left behind will be felt for generations to come, Bachand said.
“Nearly every philanthropic endeavor in Midland in recent decades had Alan Ott’s fingerprints on it in some way,” Bachand said. “He was extremely influential.”