February 21 marked the passing of one of the community’s business icons, as Otto Candies Jr. died at the age of 82, leaving a rare legacy and memorable impact behind.
When Candies put his mind to something, the results were impressive.
“When he really enjoyed doing something, whatever he did, he did it better than most people ever thought of doing it,” said his daughter, Nicki.
The Des Allemands native and resident was the chairman and CEO of Otto Candies LLC, the Des Allemands based marine transportation and towing company with international reach and clients across the world. His passing came following a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Candies was born in New Orleans but was raised in Des Allemands, where he’s lived his entire life. An alumnus of Hahnville High School, he joined the U.S. Army after one year at LSU. He spent six years with the Army before he was honorably discharged, and he returned home to join the family business: Otto Candies LLC, which was founded by his father in 1942.
From 1980 until the day he died, Candies served as the company’s CEO.
“He had no intentions of ever retiring from the business” Nicki said. “That was because he enjoyed it so much and loved the people who worked with him and for him. He always said those people were the greatest asset he had. It’s truly a family business and he had a far reaching impact on not only those of us who shared his name, but everyone who shared that love of the business with him.
“He loved what he did, no question about that. And it showed.”
Indeed it did. Candies was instrumental in the expansion of the business to work with people around the globe. Beyond his business, he was also a notable volunteer and valuable contributor to many groups, such as the Coast Guard Foundation, where he served as a board member. The foundation supported members of the Coast Guard, their families and the service branch itself. In 1994, Candies established the annual New Orleans Awards Dinner to recognize and honor Coast Guard members, and those dinners have raised approximately $10 million over the years. He was a founding member of the Offshore Marine Service Association.
Candies was also a cattle rancher and an avid outdoorsman – he many times took to Africa for hunting excursions. He also was an avid fan of LSU football.
Whatever he was doing, Candies was known for completing his objectives in quiet excellence.
“He was never boisterous or flamboyant, in neither business or his lifestyle,” Nicki said. “He was always very humble, but also very well-respected when it came to business. Everything from vessel machinery, mechanics, his cattle, he was very diligent in all regards.”
But make no mistake: he may not have been loud, but he was a leader.
“He was charismatic and charming,” Nicki said. “It was a quiet leadership way about him. With him, what you see is what you get … never any false pretenses at all. He was who he was, and he had friends all over the world. People knew he was someone they could count on.”
While he took great pride in his business and in his hobbies, he was a family man first, through and through. He leaves behind his wife, Juanita, the two married for 59 years, and his children, Otto III, Nicki, Sidney and Kelly. He has nine grandchildren and, Nicki said, he had immense pride in all.
“He was always so proud of us,” said Nicki of she and her siblings. “And of my nieces and nephews, of his grandchildren … he loved his kids and he loved his grandkids, there’s no doubt about it.”