Bunnell, Florida
Thursday, March 22, 1979


The Reverend Marcus Frederick Otterbein, 58 founder of St. Mark by the Sea Lutheran Church in Palm Coast died at his home last week of an apparent heart attack.

A funeral service was conducted Saturday morning before a packed house at the church, with the Reverend Dr, Royal A. Yount, President of the Florida Synod of the Lutheran Church in America delivering the sermon.

Dr. Yount was assisted in the service by the Reverend Dr. W. Baxtet Weant of the division for mission in North America of the LCA.

Rev. Otterbein was born Feb. 23, 1921, in Chicago. He came to Palm Coast six years ago to found a Lutheran church. St. Mark by the Sea was the result.

He was graduated from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisc. and the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. After being ordained in February, 1945, he served as pastor in a couple of parishes and as a staff member of the parish and church school board of the LCA and its predecessor, the United Lutheran Church in America.

One of the churches he served from 1951 to 1962 was the North Austin Lutheran Church in Chicago, a church his father, Dr. F. W. Otterbein, had founded. .

For nearly a decade, Rev. Otterbein worked as a staff official in the LCA headquarters in Philadelphia. But he continued to want to serve his own parish.

The LCA sent Rev. Otterbein to Florida to scout out a place to start a new church in a new community. He chose Palm Coast, partly because it was building a first rate golf course adjacent to the first group of houses.

Rev. Otterbein moved to Palm Coast in January, 1973; and started to work organizing a church. He began services on Sunday mornings in the Yacht Club and continued worship there until July 4, 1976, when the congregation moved into its new building on Palm Coast Parkway.

In addition to his church work, Rev. Otterbein was busy in community work. He served the Palm Coast Volunteer Fire Department and Palm Coast Lions Club as chaplain. He was a charter member of many organizations in the community. .

Rev. Otterbein was also a member of the Flagler County Ministerial Association. .

He had been planning to retire in 1980. Already he and his wife had purchased a retirement home in Beverly Beach. The LCA had just approved his hiring an assistant in the St. Mark church.

Otterbein said his job with the LCA headquarters kept him on the road a great deal of the time and he got tired of traveling. "I wanted to settle down in one spot and play golf and fish and have less pressure," he said. Palm Coast had the golf course, was located on the Intracoastal Waterway and had about 75 families at the end of 1972. "It looked too good to be true," Rev. Otterbein said late.

For much of the succeeding years at Palm Coast, Rev. Otterbein was the only full-time Protestant pastor.

The June 15, 1977, editor of The Lutheran, the magazine of the LCA, had an article by Feature Editor Carl T. Uehling about Rev. Otterbein and his church called "Planting the Church in a New Town”.

The article said, in part, "From the start, the mission has perceived itself as a community resource. The developers bring prospective buyers to Palm Coast and the tour bus always stops in front of St. Mark. Otterbein says the congregation's ministry has changed frequently, 'because we provide social activities, and then we pullout when the community begins to take over.”

That could serve as an explanation of Rev. Otterbein's ministry. He, too, in a sense, has served as a community resource since he came to Palm Coast and started building his congregation.

Rev. Otterbein is survived by his widow, Naomi Roth; one daughter, Susan Elizabeth; and three sons, Frederick William II, John Mark and Scott Andrew; three sisters and five grandchildren.

The family has asked that in lieu of remembrances, donations be made to .the memorial fund of St. Mark by the Sea.