Otto Lerche of Farmington passed away March 16, 2020 at Parkland Health Center at the age of 88. He was born in Fredericktown on November 9, 1931 to the late Fred and Mattie (Weiss) Lerche. In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by his son, David Lerche in 2012; a sister, Mildred Rogers and a brother, Bobby Lerche.
Otto, or as he was known to many, “Big O from Firestone” graduated from Fredericktown High School and served in the United States Army from 1952 to 1954. He was stationed at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. He then attended the University of Missouri – Columbia, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in 1959.
On June 21, 1957, Otto married Grace Maxine Allgier. He always said he was very proud and fortunate to have her by his side supporting him in life and in his business efforts. Otto and Grace moved to Farmington in 1960 when they bought their first hardware business located at 1 East Liberty. Eventually Otto downsized his hardware to focus on automotive and tires. He was the proprietor of the Lerche Firestone Dealership for 52 years.
He enjoyed his community involvement during those business years and was active in the Farmington Chamber of Commerce where he participated in the yearly Country Days Activities. He had been an active member of the Farmington High School Booster Club, a member of Jaycees, Rotary Club and Kiwanis. He was still an active member of the American Legion and a member of the Memorial United Methodist Church where he attended the United Methodist Men’s meetings.
From childhood, one of Otto’s favorite pastimes was fishing, often remarking that he loved to fish the St. Francis River “all the way from Silvermines to Lodi, Missouri”.
In his retirement years he developed a passion for growing tomatoes, a hobby he shared with his grandchildren. He had a love and devotion to our small community and had faith in the honesty system. His motto in selling those tomatoes on the honor system was “sack them, weigh them, put money in the box” and it worked.
Survivors include his loving wife of 62 years, Grace Maxine Lerche; two children, Donna (Dr. Brian) Gallagher of Farmington and Fred (Anne) Lerche of Springfield, Missouri; four grandchildren, Brian (Haley) Gallagher, Brendan (fiancee, Hannah) Gallagher, Paige (fiance, Parks Peterson) Gallagher and Evan Lerche; a brother, Freddy Lerche of Fredericktown. Also surviving are numerous nieces, nephews and extended family.
Visitation was held Thursday, March 19, 2020 at Cozean Memorial Chapel and was followed by the funeral service in the Cozean Chapel with Pastor Ron Beaton officiating. Interment followed at Arcadia Valley Memorial Park. Memorials if desired may be made to Memorial United Methodist Church or to Presbyterian Manor Good Samaritan Fund. View the tribute video and share your condolences at cozeanfuneralhome.com.