She was elegant and beautiful. Charming and regal. Oddly strong yet understandably weak. Both a contradiction and a convention. Muriel Eileen Ottmar lived a life many might recognize, one full of family and friends, love and laughter, heartbreak and loss. She passed away as many might hope, peacefully asleep in her Pacific Grove home on Aug. 20th. She was 74. Born to Iowa farmers Lloyd and Maxine Query in 1949, Muriel was the middle of five children, and the third of four daughters. She came into the world at a time marked by honest hard work, and little financial fortune, a stark combination that taught the Query’s one immutable truth early on – life was a struggle and family mattered above all else. Muriel spoke often, and fondly, of the farm.
Seeking greater opportunity, the family relocated in 1957 to Hollister, just a small speck on the California state map, and Muriel graduated from Hollister High in 1967. That same year, she entered and won the Junior Miss San Benito County beauty pageant. She rarely ever talked about that. A month shy of her 19th birthday, Muriel married the only man she would ever know, Mike Ottmar. Their marriage lasted 47 years. Love came easy, and the laughter even easier. Mike landed a job teaching and the two moved to Pacific Grove in 1968, producing their first child, Scott, two years later. Two more sons came along – Ken and Ben – and they established a community of friends that remained a constant in their lives for the next 50 years. The Ross’s, Esquivel’s, Peterson’s and Houde’s (among many others).
Professionally, Muriel’s calling was as a registered nurse, and in 1991, she earned her BSN from Cal State Dominguez Hills. She worked at CHOMP for nearly two decades, then later, at SVMH. Once when asked by one of her sons to explain the purpose of life, Muriel simply replied, “the only meaning I’ve ever found is in helping others.” She lived by that credo. It wasn’t all bliss, of course. Muriel suffered from chronic pain most of her adult life, baffling doctors until in 1996 when she was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Not long after, Mike was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The two fought their diseases together, valiantly. Mike’s condition worsened, and Muriel became his primary caregiver. He passed away in 2015. She soldiered on, even as her body betrayed her, keeping up monthly hair and nail appointments (a beauty queen at heart). She watched her six grandchildren grow. And spent time with her three sisters.
Muriel was a devoted wife, a loving mother, a doting nana, and a resilient fighter. She is and always will be the matriarch of our family, a shining example of what matters most. Muriel is survived by her four siblings, Michal Taylor, Mary Damm, Mark Query and Diane Tavares; her three sons, Scott and Kit, Ken and Ivy, Ben and Laura; and her six grandchildren, Colin, Grayson, Alexandra, Oliver, Dillin and Aiden. She was preceded in death by her parents, Lloyd and Maxine, as well as the love of her life, Michael William Ottmar.
Please join Muriel’s sisters to reflect on her life Friday, Oct. 20 from 2:00 to 5:00pm at Pinnacles Brewery: 3028 Cienega Rd. Hollister, CA