Otha Mealy was born Oct. 25, 1932, in Southold to the Rev. Aubrey Mealy Sr. and Rosa Gray Mealy. He was the third of seven children, Aubrey Mealy Jr., Bernice Mealy Daniels, Frank Mealy, Cornelia Finney, Wendell Mealy, and Priscilla Mealy.
Otha and his family spent some of his childhood years in Virginia and New Jersey before settling in Southold. Otha graduated from Southold High School in 1953. His senior class photo motto reads, “A kind and gentle soul he has.” Otha also completed vocational training and coursework at Suffolk Community College.
In 1953, Otha enlisted in the U.S. Army and was a member of the Signal Corps Battalion, stationed at Fort Devens, Mass. He was honorably discharged in 1955 at the rank of specialist third class and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. Otha served in the Army Reserve for eight years.
On Aug. 27, 1966, Otha married Dorothy Ann Gilliam of Riverhead at Unity Baptist Church in Mattituck. The Lord blessed them with 42 years of marriage and four children, Monica Lynn, Kimberly Ann, Eric Otha and Brian Otha. The couple resided in Mattituck and were members of Unity Baptist Church. Later, the family joined North Fork Baptist Church in Mattituck and finally Calvary Baptist Church in Riverhead, where Otha served the congregation as a trustee, deacon, usher and a member of the nominating committee.
In the 1960s, Otha joined his brothers working in their landscaping company – “The Mealy Brothers.” He was also a school bus driver in the local community. In 1970 Otha began working at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department as a corrections officer and he was promoted to sergeant during his tenure with the department. He was widely respected by his fellow officers, colleagues, as well as the inmates. Otha was known for his fairness and kindness, and was called “Sarge”. While an officer, Otha was a member of the Suffolk County Corrections Officer Benevolent Association and the Bronze Shields. Otha retired from the sheriff’s department in 1995, with 25 years of service. After retirement, Otha increased his volunteer activities and worked with the Town of Southold Parks Service doing maintenance and grounds keeping for local parks and beaches.
Otha and his wife Dorothy served their church in ministry to the sick and shut-in and were leaders in their community, participating in the Southold Town Anti-Bias Task Force, Community Action Southold Town and the Riverhead Salvation Army food bank, distributing food to residents and ministering to them as well. It was a Mealy family tradition to distribute meals during the Thanksgiving season and poinsettias during the Christmas season to family, friends and those who needed a holiday blessing. Otha and Dorothy were also involved in local politics and the NAACP.
He was a longtime member of the Mattituck Lions Club and participated every year in the hulling of the strawberries and selling berries at the Mattituck Lions Strawberry Festival. He was an avid gardener, fisherman, reader of biographies and books on world history and sports, and enjoyed going out to dinner and movies with his sons. Otha shared a love of family history with his wife and could often be heard telling cherished stories about his upbringing. Otha was also an expert when it came to identifying antique tractors and motor vehicles. He was a Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankee fan, attending many baseball games, including Negro League games, where he once witnessed Satchel Paige’s pitching.
Otha also enjoyed traveling. One of his most cherished travel memories is his international trip to New Zealand in 2013 to visit his daughter Monica, son-in-law Ian, and his three granddaughters.
Otha was called home to be with the Lord on Feb. 25, 2016. He is predeceased by his brother Frank Mealy and his sisters Bernice Mealy Daniels and Cornelia Finney.
Otha is survived by his eldest daughter, Elder Monica Lynn Mealy-Barnes of New Zealand, his daughter, Dr. Kimberly Ann Mealy of Washington D.C. and his two sons Eric Otha Mealy and Brian Otha Mealy, both of Mattituck. Otha is also survived by his son-in-law Ian Jeffrey Barnes, and his granddaughters, Jamilah Briana Barnes, Joharah Erica Barnes, and Amirah Aroha Barnes, of New Zealand. He is also survived by his siblings, Aubrey Mealy, Jr. of Southold, Wendell Mealy of Greenport, Priscilla Mealy of Queens and his sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law. Otha also leaves behind a host of nieces and nephews who referred to him as “Daddy O” and “Uncle Otha”.
Otha Mealy was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, friend and Christian. He was personable and kind to friends and strangers alike. He led a full and wonderful life of faith, service, humility, charity, and strength of character.
Arrangements were entrusted to DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Homes.
This is a paid notice.