Beloved Long-Time Orinda Resident Ernestine Ottino Dies at 99

(Courtesy of Ernestine Ottino)
Ernestine Ottino 1922-2021 Longtime Orinda resident known for her ever-present smile and clip-on earrings died April 15.

    Remembered for her quick, engaging smile and compassionate spirit, Ernestine “Ernie” Ottino died April 15. She was predeceased by her husband Sergio “Serge” of 60 years in 2004, and their only child Rita Kohler in 2005.
    Longtime Orinda residents, Serge and Ernie owned and operated Ottino’s Delicatessen for 40 years, first in Berkeley, then Orinda (now Europa). Always behind the scenes, Ernie cooked in the back kitchen, often delivering full trays of food “wearing her white apron splattered with spaghetti sauce,” according to Traci Miller, who worked at the Orinda deli as a teenager.
    After a decades-long hiatus, Miller was reacquainted with Ernie through The Orinda Association’s Seniors Around Town transportation and shopping programs.
    “She loved peanut butter, Eggo waffles with maple syrup and always had three apples and three bananas on her grocery list. Oh, and beef hot dogs,” said Miller.
    Tish Gleason, a friend of Kohler’s and the Ottino family for many years said, “She was always fun to be around and told such great stories. I loved hearing about her and Serge’s years of dedicated involvement with the West Berkeley Lions Club.”
    Cousin Gloria Verner remembers Ernie as “the sweetest individual who always had a smile. If you dropped in to see her, she always had earrings (clip) and lipstick on.”
    A Mass and internment were held May 18 at St. Joseph Cemetery in San Pablo, followed by a reception at the Ottino home.
    Kathy Enzerink met Ernestine Ottino as a volunteer driver with the Senior Around Town transportation program and later with VESP (Volunteer Emergency Support Program). Ernie loved a good Martini, so Kathy made sure she had a tiny bottle of Tanqueray and a box of her favorite See’s chocolates for her birthdays.

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