On the afternoon of January 17, 2016, Otto Willard DeBruhl passed from this life to be with our Lord. He was surrounded and comforted by his family at The Brian Center in Weaverville, North Carolina at the time of his passing. He was 81 years old.
Otto was born on June 18, 1934 in Buncombe County to the late Frank Marion DeBruhl and the late Annie Lee Capps DeBruhl. A lifelong resident of Buncombe County, Otto lived in the Erwin Hills area with his wife of 58 years, Jacqueline "Jackie" Lunsford DeBruhl.
Mr. DeBruhl graduated from Red Oak High School in Buncombe County, North Carolina. He was a graduate of the Lee Institute of Real Estate and also a graduate of the Dale Carnegie Human Relations course. He studied at the Institute of Government in Chapel Hill where he went on to teach courses for Judicial Ethics. He received the Certificate of Award for Advanced Training from the Institute of Government in 1977 and in 1989. He was also a Certified Notary Public Instructor at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.
Otto began his career as a self-employed businessman. He was owner/operator for fifteen years of B&J Body Shop, while also being a licensed real estate broker. He later presided over the Small Claims Civil Court Division of the General Court of Justice as a Magistrate Judge from 1970-1978. Through his contributions to serving the county of Buncombe he was appointed in February 1978, by the County Executive Committee to fill the unexpired term of the late Register of Deeds. He was elected to this post in 1980 and then went on to be re-elected seven more consecutive times. While serving as Register of Deeds, he had multiple other positions of service for the State Association of Register of Deeds. He was twice elected District Chairman. Mr. DeBruhl was a member of the Legislative and Executive Committees, former member of the Finance Committee, Program Chairman in 1981, Chairman of the Legislative Committee for District 1, 1986 and 1987. Appointed Secretary to the Association 1988 and Treasurer to the Association in 1989. He served as the President of the North Carolina Association of Register of Deeds from 1991 to 1992; which resulted in his being awarded North Carolina's Outstanding Register of Deeds in 1987 for his leadership in legislation upgrading land records statewide. He served as North Carolina representative to the International Association of IACREOT. He is also a former member of the State Land Record Management Advisory Committee.
Other notable positions of service were President of the North Carolina Magistrates Association in 1975, Board of Directors of the North Carolina Magistrates Association. He was appointed by the North Carolina General Assembly Speaker of the House to serve as a member of a Study Commission to implement the North Carolina Criminal Code Procedure. As well as being appointed by the North Carolina General Assembly Speaker of the House to serve on the State Infrastructure Needs and Local Government Study Commission. In 1975 he was appointed to a Legislative Research Commission of the Administration of Criminal Procedures until 1977.
Otto was the most respected and longest serving Register of Deeds in the history of Buncombe County and was known as "Mr. D" throughout the state.
Otto was the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions throughout his tenure including the "Order of the Long Leaf Pine" by Governor Mike Easley in 2008. In 2006, he received the "Mountain Democrat of the Year" award from the 11th Congressional District. In 2007, he received "The Chair's Award" from the North Carolina Democratic Party in recognition of his service to the State Party. In 1998, he received the "Roy A. Taylor Award" for outstanding service to the 11th Congressional District Young Democrats and the Democrat Party. In 1990 he was presented the "Eunice Ayers Distinguished Service Award" by the Association. In 1987, The Buncombe County Bar Association recognized him for modernization and cost saving measures he implemented since taking office. Also in 1987, he was selected "Outstanding Register of Deeds" by the North Carolina County Commissioners Association.
In 1989, he successfully petitioned the Buncombe County Commissioners to amend the County Seal from the words "Men to Match Our Mountains" to "People to Match Our Mountains" which the County Seal still reads today.
A lifelong Democrat, he formerly served as President of the Buncombe County Democratic Men's Club. He was a charter member of the Democratic Men's Club and is an honorary member of the Board of Directors.
Civic activities included are a former member of the Old Buncombe Genealogical Society Board of Directors; he served on the Advisory Committee for the Erwin High School District and was also a former member of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.
His priorities were his Faith, Family, Love of his Country and "His" Democrat Party.
Otto was loved by all whose lives he touched. There has never been a more caring, giving and generous man. He was the "Go To" person in the courthouse where he helped countless citizens with resolving minor and major problems during his 38 years of public service. His caring nature to serve is what truly defines him. It did not matter which party you were registered for when someone came to him for help. Only, that he was going to do whatever he could to help.
Otto was preceded in death by his mother Annie Lee Capps DeBruhl, father Frank Marion DeBruhl, brothers Paul DeBruhl and Hilliard DeBruhl along with his sister Pauline DeBruhl Rice, nephew, Dean Rice and special brother-in-law Maurice "Mike" Lunsford.
Otto is survived by his wife Jacqueline "Jackie" Lunsford DeBruhl of the home, daughters Tammy DeBruhl of Asheville, Robin DeBruhl Fisher of Alexander and son, David DeBruhl and wife Debbie of Asheville. Grandchildren, Joshua Fisher and wife Tiffany of Alexander, Chelsey Fisher of Alexander, Jacob DeBruhl and Kayla DeBruhl of Asheville. Great-grandchildren, Holden Fisher and Neely Fisher of Alexander. Brother-in-Law and Sister-in-law, Ronnie and Betty Jean Lunsford of Marion, Sister-in law, Diane Lunsford of Asheville. And Copper. He also has numerous nephews, nieces, cousins and friends.
Funeral services will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday at Trinity Baptist Church of Asheville, 216 Shelburne Rd., Asheville, NC 28806. The family will receive friends two hours prior to the service at the church. Interment will be a private ceremony for the family at Riverview Church Cemetery.
The funeral service will be live streamed at tbcasheville.org.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to MANNA Foodbank, 627 Swannanoa River Rd., Asheville, NC 28805, and/or to ABCCM, 30 Cumberland Ave., Asheville, NC 28801.
Special thanks to all the caregivers and the outpouring of support our family has received during this time.
Chief, we will miss you dearly.