Bob Ortt was hired into the Admissions and Records Office in 1983 and served there in a loyal and dedicated fashion as a Student Services Specialist-Evaluator for 30 years, retiring in 2013.
The best way to pay tribute to Bob is through the memories of his co-workers. The following is a compilation of various experiences from Bob’s closest friends and co-workers, put together by Nancy Navarro (CalWORKS Counselor – Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS)):
We each have our own special memories of our interactions with Bob. I will do my best to reflect each one’s stories.
Searching my memory I recall meeting Bob Ortt when I was just a work-study student here at Ohlone College (in our old Student Services Building 1), but Bob treated me with respect, kindness and accountability that he would do with anyone else. With Bob, you can expect hard-work, honesty, (and believe me he will be honest) dedication and commitment, not just to his job, but to family, friends or anyone that is lucky enough to cross his path. One thing for sure though, friendship with Bob doesn’t come easy, like many things in life, he is a strong believer in earning and working hard for what you acquire.
He will not hesitate to question your opinions, and if you are a friend, he will not hesitate to tell you exactly what he is thinking and there will be no finessing of words or beating around the bush; (As Rose Martinez knows all too well) he will simply be Bob. If you are wearing inappropriate attire to work, he will not simply let you know that it is inappropriate, but he will tell you exactly in what street corner those clothes belong. Surely, you will want to burn those and any evidence of ownership of such attire. Rose, being a good friend, did not take offense and appreciated his honesty and found it rather hilarious…it was just Bob being Bob.
All the same, although he questions your opinions, during a time when I questioned my career path, he also encouraged me to not let the noise of other’s opinions drowned out my own inner voice, and most importantly, to have the courage to follow my heart; no matter how daunting that may seem.
If you have had the unique pleasure to have Bob as a mentor as Sonny Martinez (who took Bob’s place as Enrollment Services Specialist – Evaluator) had, it was a known fact to Sonny that Bob would always have the answer, and if he didn’t, he would find the answer. Once Bob had an answer or explanation to students, he was best known for his very thorough, intricate plot emails, explaining every possible scenario and as Sonny says, “Covering all bases and qualifying his emails for great short stories.” The following words from his pupil Sonny speak volumes to the impact that Bob has on individuals: “His generosity and kindness has helped influence me to be a better person. Bob taught me to always go above and beyond to help others, to always be a tool and never a road block.”
As Sonny and many of us recall, Bob was always one of the first ones in the office and one of the last ones to leave; furthermore, keeping with his true nature of always going above and beyond. I often as I’m sure many others ran into Bob coming in to work on his own Saturdays, “to get his piles to manageable levels”. As Counselor Stephanie Ramos and many of us recall, for years Bob worked almost alone as his colleague had health issues and then that turned into one lonely evaluator for much too long, yet Bob never complained. He simply tried to keep up with the work-load. He continued to be the committed and hard-working individual that we all know him to be. Never thinking of himself or how overloaded he was but rather making sure that he was always meeting the students’ needs.
Over and over again, unanimously, everyone whom I speak to about Bob, shares the same sheen objective or one can say subjective truth of his characteristics. Those of us that have had the pleasure to truly call Bob our friend, appreciate his honesty, consistency and selfless nature. He is full of surprises, sometimes you may think he is not paying attention but before you know it, there he was, with a gift for my first graduation and a box full of Ghirardelli’s dark-chocolates for my second graduation. Another occasion, giving a waitress a $100.00 tip, for his retirement paying for catering to feed the entire Counseling Department instead of letting us celebrate him; his random acts of kindness are endless.
When he decides he is going to be your friend, mentor or simply make your day exceptional, he does exactly that.
Bob was the initiator of the Admissions & Records “student services snack table” and he made sure it was stocked; Inga Bellamy (Student Services Assistant – EOPS) is a witness to that hungry students, faculty and staff have surely reaped the benefits of that table. Inga recalls,” … even after retirement, he has returned to fill up the snack table…of course not the healthiest of snacks but I’ve yet to hear any complaints… but if you are looking for healthy foods, do not seek Bob. However, Bob will motivate you to exercise and run, as he is a very avid runner and continues to run every chance he gets, and has even completed road races with friends and co-workers.”
I’m sure that Bob has never given much thought to the way in which he has influenced lives or made an impact on someone he doesn’t even know. He simply makes these emotional connections with people and hooks you to always aspire to better yourself. These words only touch the surface of the man that Bob is, but they intend to be the voice suited to tell a bit of his tale in the truest and most special way.
Lastly, being the great motivator of simply being grateful and happy for every little thing. Waking up each morning and making it to work was something to truly be grateful for each day and he reminded me of this every day he saw me, he would say to me “Thank you for coming today”, and I would reply “No… thank you.” We both understood the idea of being grateful for every little thing, and each morning these words would bring a smile to my face and give my day a great start. From my heart and all your friends at Ohlone, I would like to say…thank you for your 30-years of hard-work, dedication and for being such a good friend, “Thank you for coming today Bob.”
The following are additional memories of Bob and his contributions submitted by three members of the Counseling Division:
From Janet Corcoran, Counselor:
It is an honor for me to write about Bob Ortt! He stands out as one of my most favorite people I have had the pleasure to work with at Ohlone. He was always so helpful to me and always available when I needed his expertise. He’s a genuinely kind person and if I was to run into him at work, he always said hello and asked me how my day was going! I often had the chance to have breakfast with him at the Ohlone cafeteria because he arrived as early as I did so we ended up there many times in the early morning. It was great to get the chance to spend time with him and talk about everything that was going on at work and in the world. It always amazed me that in his off-work time, he liked to jog. He jogged a lot!!! Sometimes I would see him running on the streets and he always looked like he had tons of energy. I remember that he loved to drink Coke or Pepsi—I can’t remember which one for sure but he always had a Big Gulp cup full of it! He could drink all he wanted and never gain an ounce because he jogged so much :–)! He is a great guy and now that he has retired, I really miss him around Ohlone. He is a big part of what I have always liked about working here! There is no one who can take the place of Bob!!! Here’s to you Bob Ortt—you are a treasure and you are missed! Thank you for all you did for Ohlone’s faculty, staff and students through the years! :–)
From Stephanie Ramos, Counselor:
Bob Ortt – He is so loved by us all. He is a beloved trustworthy friend. Dependable, hardworking, and did his job over and beyond what was expected. For years, he worked alone and was profoundly underpaid for his expertise and 10-hour work days. He always made sure to check on students to grant their degrees and certificates, even if they came back years later with pieces of transcripts from a multitude of colleges. There was nothing that would get in the way of Bob making sure a student had all of their options exhausted when trying to get them what they needed. Coming in on Saturdays to get his piles to a manageable level, or staying after 8pm was something common, and you could always count on him to be straightforward and honest. Bob loved to stop at Mission Coffee to buy muffins and chocolate chip cookies. He would make sure that they were at least a week old before he ate them in a perfectly stale state. One of our most proud moment we have shared with our one Outstanding Evaluator was when he showed up to a family wedding with his Sponge Bob shirt on. His humor runs deep and if you were lucky, you have seen him in action. We are so proud of this true Renegade!
From Yvonka Headley, Counselors:
Back in 2000, when I was an adjunct counselor, Bob and I worked until 7-8pm.
So, he quickly became my “go-to” in A&R while I worked the evening hours in the Counseling Department. Bob patiently helped me work through numerous transcripts, general education plans, and academic regulations. I can say that I learned a lot from Bob.