Press Democrat, Santa Rosa., obituary:
Article published - Feb 6, 2008
OBITUARIES Paul Otto
He was the first hippie to greet many commune visitors at Morningstar and Wheeler Ranches in the 1960s. Known as "Coyote" to many, Paul Otto was a nearly mythical Sonoma County character and bon vivant.
He died at home of a heart attack at age 59 in late November. Family members are planning a memorial service for spring.
Born in 1948 in Bethesda, Md., he grew up in a blended family among two sisters and two brothers.
"When he was a teenager the family moved to Southern California. He was sent to Pleasanton to be in the Job Corps, but ran away to see hippies in the Haight-Ashbury," said his wife of 29 years, Denise Otto of Santa Rosa.
By 1967 Otto was a tie-died hippie. He hitchhiked between San Francisco and Sonoma County's famous commune, Morningstar Ranch. By 1969 he was living on another commune, Wheeler Ranch. He is the author of "The Morningstar Scrapbook," which chronicled the legal struggles of Morningstar's founder, the late Lou Gottlieb.
He met his wife at a New Year's Eve party ushering in 1979. They married in 1989. They lived in a bus and traveled to craft shows, where she sold bead jewelry.
In his late 30s, he enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College where he made the Dean's List, earning auto mechanic and diesel mechanic certifications.
In 1986, Otto was diagnosed with HIV. By 1994, he was battling AIDS. His final health struggle was with skin cancer.
His last big adventure was attending the 40th anniversary of the "Summer of Love" in San Francisco last year, with the help of two caregivers.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his mother, Ruth Penn, and sisters, Sharon Wixom and Doris Penn, all of Bremen, Ga.; and brothers Harry Otto of Salem, Ore., and Steve Penn of Santa Fe, Texas.
-- Rayne Wolfe
By onanian | Thursday, Feb 07, 2008 09:46A
Coyote was my friend and brother for over 37 years. We first met at Wheelers. He worked hard to make his life better. He overcame much. Trashing him says more about the life of the poster, not Coyote's. We who knew him know. I loved him. Tommy
By jodidcl | Thursday, Feb 07, 2008 09:06A
I never met anyone quite like Coyote. He wore his heart on his sleeve; and was a kind, honest and compassionate human being. I first met him in Occidental in 1971. He had an excellent memory and was a colorful story-teller. I love and miss him.
By miketwofeathers | Thursday, Feb 07, 2008 06:17A
He not only touched the lives around him, but during his lifetime, he touched the lives of people all over the world. his words are still spoken of in the 'Rainbow Family of Living Light' his insight, his personality, his smile, live in peace brother
By sablumenthal | Thursday, Feb 07, 2008 05:53A
Coyote was a lover of life and a wonderful resource for Sonoma County history, having spent a good portion of his life here. I am glad to have had the opportunity to know him and be his friend. -Stephanie Blumenthal
By mornstar | Thursday, Feb 07, 2008 02:19A
Coyote was courageous, willing to take a a stand for what he believed in-to try to make a differnece. Sad to waste one's time sniping at the dead. Ignorant to miss the caring giving part of your hippy neighbors. Morningstar
By peacemoves | Wednesday, Feb 06, 2008 10:58P
My life is better for having known Paul Otto, Coyote. Talk about a big heart!!! Thank you Coyote for your love, light, compassion. ...Rena
By hippydeni | Wednesday, Feb 06, 2008 10:26P
My dead husband quit drugs, alcohol & cigarettes 29 yrs. ago. He earned two Santa Rosa Junor College certifications & was on the Dean's Honor List. He got HIV before they knew what caused it so he couldn't prevent it. I miss him.
By mryezbick | Wednesday, Feb 06, 2008 09:21P
And he was a good person with a great personality always willing to help a friend or stranger with anything they needed!
By uncledavestorytime | Wednesday, Feb 06, 2008 08:33P
Coyote Jones AKA paul Otto was one heck of a human being and I for one will miss him for all the days of my life. Frank Redbuss
Never a day in the life of Paul Otto wasted as he lived EVERY day as a true human hero.. One of the mighty Avengers of Sonoma County who as a super hero without super powers changed the life of all and for the better!!!
Coyote was one of the first people that I met my first day at Wheeler's,
but wait I think I'll start a little bit earlier.
The year was 1969, about early November, I was seventeen years old and living on the streets of San Francisco. A prostitute that had befriended me said she'd heard of a commune outside of a town called Occidental, and we should go there for the weekend to get out of the city. Sounded like a good idea to me, so I asked her where it was. She said she was pretty sure it was south on the coast highway. We took a bus out to Ocean Beach on the Great Highway. After standing there a while with our thumbs out, I thought to ask her how far south it was. She responded that she didn't really know, she'd only heard about it. I went to a telephone booth and called 411, the operator was very helpful and pointed us in the opposite direction.
It was about mid day when we set out, and by sunset we found ourselves standing in Occidental next to Negri's. A short time later a flatbed pulls up with a load of hippies on the back. Someone asks if we want a ride, turns out they were going to Wheelers. This was the first time I'd heard the name, up until then I only knew of a rumored commune. We said cool, and were on our way. It was already getting dark when we got to gruesome gulch where we had to get out of the truck and walk the rest of the way down to the front gate.
To this day, I remember the walk down vividly; funny how some things stick in your mind. It seemed so magical; I felt more alive than I had in a long time. We had sleeping bags, so we laid them out right at the front gate by the road and went to sleep.
When we woke up late the next morning we found other people hanging out near by who offered us food. We ate and continued to hang out, evidently this was a place for people to hang out. Through conversation, we learned that most of these folks were visiting for the weekend just like us.
Talking to someone who had been there for a while, I asked where I could find some acid. Following his instructions, we made our way back to the pine grove and went up to the octagon house. I called out, Hey! does anyone know where Coyote is. Out of a window pokes a head, and with a broad grin he says; I'm Coyote what can I do for ya? Word has it that you've got some acid, I responded. Come here and open your mouth, how many do you want? I said three is usually a good number, so in he drops them and away I went.
I had taken acid several times, the first when I was fifteen in 1967; but that was the first time I had really tripped. Everyone hanging out there that day was high, and some didn't even take anything. what a perfect day.
I'll stop here for now, it's midnight and i have a Chamber of Commerce Meeting at 8:30 in the morning. Until later, Peace and Love.