Mrs. Otissey Denton was a teacher for thirty-three years. After her retirement in 1991, she began spending three to four days a week at schools, nursing homes, the library and civic clubs; however, she began her service to the community long before that. She has been active in her church since 1979 and has planned at least eight programs and seminars annually, served on the Board of Directors for Oklahoma School of Religion in Tulsa since 1990, and she has been an active member of her sorority for 50 years.
“Miss Ote,” as she is affectionately referred to by most, is and has been a major force in her community throughout her life. Though she has had to deal with the loss of her husband and one of her daughters, she is still a driving force in Muskogee. She is rather delicate and fragile looking; though she is a strong woman with a melodious voice that cannot be missed. One of her joys in life is entrancing children with her stories and encouraging them to read themselves. The community of Muskogee believes that they have a national shrine in Denton. They believe she is a beacon of light that serves as an example to both the young and the old. She encourages the adults to keep their family traditions alive and tell stories to their children. If you have passed through the county, you may hear of her or meet some of the many people whose lives she has touched.
Denton is director of Christian Education at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, served as dean of Christian Education Collate District (a consortium of 20 Baptist churches), served as instructor for the State Congress on Christian Education, and is member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. She is also a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, Friends of the Library, The National Story Telling Association and Oklahoma Territory Tellers. In addition to this, she takes on numerous literacy programs for the library and tutors for the Muskogee Area Literacy Council. For the past four years, she has written a literacy column for the local newspaper, and for the past eight years she has facilitated workshops on how to tell stories.
Though she is retired, Denton has a full schedule and her accomplishments are too numerous to cite them all. Her weekly activities include telling stories with children at Cherokee Elementary two mornings per week and tutoring a student through the Muskogee Area Literacy Council. Some of her special activities during 1998 were telling stories at the Muskogee Public Library about the theme, “Love Stories for Children and Adults,” telling stories as part of the Summer Reading Program at the Warner and Muskogee Library as well as telling stories to adults and children at the Muskogee Public Library Fall Festival. She also gave a book review, presented Writing for the Adult New Reader at the Tutor-Training Workshop at the Muskogee Public Library for the Literacy Council.
In 1999, she was honored with the American Library Trustee Association Literacy Award, nominated for the American Association of Retired Persons Legacy Award for volunteering in literacy and received the Education Youth Work Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority for her commitment to help youth with their educational endeavors. The Muskogee Daily Phoenix and Muskogee Chamber of Commerce voted her as one of “The Five Who Care” volunteers of the year and she received an award from Toyota Corporation for her involvement in literacy programs in 1998.