Calgary transit worker who died from COVID-19 complications remembered for his smile

CALGARY — A Calgary transit work who passed away from complications arising from COVID-19 is being remembered for his big smile and personable nature.

For 45 years John Othen got to know Calgarians from behind the wheel of a transit bus.

“He loved the job so much he’d come home with a smile on his face,” said daughter Raye-lynn Graham.

“It gave him some purpose to helping the people of Calgary,” she said. “He was able to bring them to their appointments.”

Othen tested positive for COVID-19 in November and was hospitalized for weeks. He was well enough to return home in December and spent Christmas wife Lavone, who had also had COVID-19 but has since recovered.

Othen was rushed to hospital again last week and he died from COVID-19 complications, the family says

“We thought we beat it, we thought we were out of the woods,” Graham told CTV News.

Since the start of the pandemic 91 Calgary Transit employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

“We have pushed since the onset of the pandemic for best practices in the work place and in spite of that we’ve had a high number of confirmed cases. A number of people suspect they contracted it at work,” said Mike Mahar, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 583.

Othen leaves behind his wife of 42 years, two daughters Haley and Raye-lynn, and many Calgary transit colleagues and friends. 

John Othen family

“He was an ambassador for our city without even trying. People would go out of their way to catch his bus,” said Mahar.

 A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help the Othen family pay for funeral expenses.

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