New Glarus Assistant Fire Chief Retires After 37 Years


May 23, 2019

Pete and Roseann Ott with the cake at the retirement celebration.

Since 1902, when the New Glarus Fire Department first started, there has been an Ott serving the community every year except for three. Five generations protecting and keeping New Glarus safe.

As of two weeks ago, that legacy changed when Pete Ott retired after serving the residents of New Glarus for 37 years as Assistant Fire Chief and a member of the New Glarus Fire Department Ladder Team.

"My great-grandfather Fred was a charter member of the Fire Department," said Pete. "He served as Chief."

His grandfather, Gilbert, served for 37 years as Assistant Chief.

Pete's father, Don, served for 25 years as Lieutenant and was also on the New Glarus Fire District Board.

And Pete and wife Roseann's son, Andy, recently retired after 18 years of service on the New Glarus Fire Department. Now, he lives in Stoughton and volunteers for the Stoughton Fire Department and is a fire fighter for the Fitchburg Fire Department.

The couples' nephew, Aaron Funseth, still serves on the New Glarus Fire Department, and Roseann has cleaned for the New Glarus Fire for the last two years.

"So technically, we're still on watch," laughed Roseann.

Ott recalls that he was one of the first to fill out an application to serve as an officer, which was a new policy for the Fire Department.

"It used to be that you moved up the ladder, so to speak," said Pete with a smile.

Stationed in San Diego, Ott also served his country for three years in the U.S. Navy, and two years in the reserves.

Being involved in New Glarus' tight-knit community, the couple also owned the Ott Haus Pub and Grill for 20 years.

"I bartended and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the people of New Glarus and its many tourists," added Roseann.

A tradition that started while they owned the Ott Haus was celebrating Christmas with their customers, friends, and family.

"For the last 19 years, we've invited family and friends and ask that they bring a non-perishable food item or make a monetary donation," explained Pete. "Last year, Roseann decorated 70 or so Christmas trees, each with a different theme."

Similar to past years, last Christmas the couple donated more than 300 pounds of food and $300 to Green Cares Food Pantry.

Looking forward to possibly more free time, the couple hopes to spend more time with their children, Marc, Jessica and Andy, and families including their six grandchildren, Caitlyn, Brendan, Justin, Rigleigh, Finnley and Jaxton.

Pete said he wants to enjoy more time reading, and learning about history and he hasn't retired from his full-time job at Sub-Zero in Madison, where he has worked for the last 42 years.

As for the New Glarus Fire Department, Pete said it's a big difference not to carry a New Glarus Fire Department pager, not to respond to calls, or not to lay out clothes each night in case there was a late-night, or early morning fire call.

"I still have a scanner," said Pete. "But now I don't need to respond, I just wonder what is going on."

Pete added that he is going to miss the camaraderie but not the trainings, bitterly cold calls, or the early morning calls.

"I can always go to the fire station to visit," said Pete. "I'm still a fireman...just retired."

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Members of the New Glarus Fire Department gathered for a photo at the fire station to wish retiring Assistant Fire Chief Ott well in his retirement after 37 years with the Department.


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