Community remembers 'The Bible Man' - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Community remembers 'The Bible Man'

(Source: Candy Rodriguez/KPLC) (Source: Candy Rodriguez/KPLC)
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

Jessica Broussard still remembers the summer day she met Vernon Otten, kindly known in the community as "The Bible Man."

"Mr. Vernon has given me this Bible and I carried it around everywhere," Broussard said. 

After learning Otten had passed away this past weekend, Broussard was left devastated. But why? She only met him once. 

"Perhaps it was the time where I was able to meet him, it was a very delicate time in my life and I really, really needed it and it just helped tremendously," she said. "I thought of him so many times."

The 87-year-old transplant from Wisconsin was known across the Lake Area for handing out free Bibles to anyone and everyone who wanted one. 

"He didn't preach the word," said Zillion Lewis. "He gave the word."

"He was a nice man, yes he was," said Laverne Celestine.

For over 15 years, his trailer has been stationed near the corner of Highway 14 and Prien Lake Road in the Hobby Lobby parking lot in Lake Charles. 

The trailer is decorated with messages and smiley faces. It has become a staple in the area.

Jessica Mears noticed it when she first started working at Donut Palace because the trailer was parked outside her work. 

"We've been here for about two years and ever since we've been here, he's been here," she said. 

For Mears, learning about the death of her beloved friend wasn't easy, as death seems to be a reoccurring theme in her life after losing two husbands and two children. 

"He told me I was a strong woman and not to give up and that was one promise I made to him,” she said. "I wouldn't give up and I won't."

She's hoping he's remembered, "As this smiling old man that just wanted to give you a Bible," said Mears. "That's it." 

And many wondered how he managed to continue the free Bible handouts for years. Believe it or not, a big part had to do with tin cans.

"People throw that away and to him, that was like gold," she said. "He put his heart into this little men."

Mears has the tin men and Broussard has the Bible, both serving as a reminder of who Vernon Otten was and how he touched his community. 

No local memorial services have been scheduled at this time. 

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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