Darwin Otto, Sellwood antiques legend, passes
With the tumult caused by the arrival of the COVID-19 coronavirus earlier this year, the passing on March 15 of Sellwood antique dealer Charles Darwin Otto went unnoticed, except by his close friends.
His longtime partner in "Stars and Splendid, Inc.", Brent Heeb, told THE BEE about the man known as Darwin Otto.
"Darwin came to Sellwood in the mid 1970's when he opened up his antiques shop, 'ETC Antiques'. He ran his shop until we started up 'Stars Antiques Malls' in 1990. He previously had lived close to Reed College, but then moved into the Sellwood neighborhood several years after opening his shop. So he has been a fixture in Sellwood for quite some time.
"The partners came together in 1987 to produce a lifestyle country antiques show at Montgomery Park called 'The Magic of Oregon'. After doing these shows for several years, we decided to open up an antiques mall. Darwin was familiar with this concept from his days of shopping on the East Coast. Tom Brown had the space in Westmoreland, and we just did it. Thirty years later we are still in business."
Otto was important to Inner Southeast Portland, Heeb reflected, "Because he believed in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood, both having a business in Westmoreland and living here for many years. He supported the idea of neighborhoods that were vital with shops and services that enhanced its livability. And, he lived to see the transformation of Sellwood and Westmoreland over the last 50 years.
His best memory of Otto, Heeb said, was when he walked into his original shop, 'ETC".
"I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was a treasure trove of country antiques and found objects. I could tell this was a man of creativity and taste. Later, after becoming friends, I fell in love with this kind and thoughtful man; we celebrated 36 years together in February.
"Darwin was a man of few words, but he was beloved by his customers and friends. He just had something that drew people to him. He lived his life to the fullest."
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