August 17, 2022

E. Otis Dyer

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Rehoboth - Everett Otis Dyer (E. Otis Dyer), 95, passed away on May 23, 2022 at Sturdy Hospital in Attleboro MA. He was born at home on August 8, 1926 in Framingham MA, the youngest of four children of Alice Everett Dexter Dyer and Samuel Dyer. He spent an idyllic childhood in the woods and ponds of Framingham. He loved reading, especially history, and building cabins, camps and trails in the woods.

He graduated from Framingham High School in 1943 and from University of Maine in 1949 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. He interrupted his college career to serve in the U.S. Navy during WWII as a radar technician on the submarine USS Skipjack. He witnessed the first atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll on July 1, 1946. 

Otis met Jean Woodbridge Palmer on a blind date in Framingham where she was attending college. They married on Jean's 22nd birthday in 1950 and began life on a dilapidated farm in Rehoboth that had been in Dyer's family since 1818. They raised four children on the family farm which included cattle, chickens and a variety of other animals. Otis loved farming and over time, he expanded the farm and revitalized its pastures, hay fields and woodlots. The original 1746 homestead was renovated and eventually placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Great Meadow Hill Farm is now nationally recognized as a Bicentennial Farm, for being in the same family for over 200 years.

Otis also spent time in Truro MA, his father's birthplace, and built, with his father and brother, a cottage on a dune overlooking Cape Cod Bay. The cottage would become part of a beloved summer colony of the extended Dyer family for four generations.

He began his engineering career with Stone and Webster at Montaup Electric plant in Somerset MA and then at Walco Electric in Providence RI. In 1954 he began a land surveying business in his home. He constructed an office across the street and continued running E. Otis Dyer, Land Surveying until his death. He especially enjoyed deed research which greatly contributed to his knowledge of local history.

His lifelong passion for history led him to help the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society build its museum and barn and serve as President for over twenty years. He was a charter member of the Rehoboth Historical Commission for more than 50 years and a member of the Rehoboth Revolutionary War Bicentennial Commission. In 2016 he was appointed Rehoboth Town Historian. He researched, wrote and contributed many articles, pamphlets and books including Swamp Yankee, a history of local farm life in the 1900s, and a book about the early history of Rehoboth and the Rehoboth Congregational Church that he was completing at the time of his death.

Otis was active in Rehoboth politics as a member of the Gravel Committee, Water Study Committee, Survey Board, and Planning Board. He helped to create Rehoboth's first zoning map. He was honored to serve as Grand Marshall for the 375th anniversary parade of Rehoboth.

He supported preserving Rehoboth's woods and open spaces. He researched and purchased nearly every parcel of the 435-acre historic Squannakonk Swamp, the largest contiguous property in Rehoboth. In 2016 he donated the entire property to the Rehoboth Land Trust and requested that it be named for one of his late mentors, Roy Horton of Dighton MA.

Otis was predeceased by Jean, his wife of 68 years, by his three siblings, Jane Dyer Ellsworth, Samuel Dyer Jr. and Justine Dyer Phillips, and by his son, E. Otis Dyer Jr. He leaves two daughters, Betsey Dexter Dyer (Robert Obar) of Walpole MA and Lydia Dyer Carswell (Larry Carswell) of Rehoboth, a son, Nathaniel Paine Dyer (Lisa-Marie Sanford) of Rehoboth, and six grandchildren: Daniel Carswell, James Carswell, Alice Obar, Samuel Obar, Caleb Dyer and Tatum Dyer.

Funeral arrangements have been made with Foley-Cook-Hathaway Funeral Home in Attleboro MA. Interment will be private at the family’s lot in the Stevens Corner Cemetery in Rehoboth. A memorial service will be held at the Rehoboth Congregational Church on Monday, August 8 at 9:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts to the Carpenter Museum, P.O. Box 2, Rehoboth MA 02769 will be appreciated.

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