Osterhoudt remembered

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SPRING HILL – Back in February 2012, when Tony Marro first got the call Maria Osterhoudt had died, he assumed there had been a car accident.

A day earlier Marro was helping Osterhoudt plant a new garden in the front of her home at 7190 Raymond Place in Spring Hill. The improvements were in anticipation of Osterhoudt’s retirement from St. Petersburg College, just four months away, and a big celebration of 150 guests at her home.

Marro soon learned there hadn’t been a crash, but that Osterhoudt died after being shot by her husband, Alan Osterhoudt, in their Spring Hill home. After shooting his wife in their bathroom, Alan Osterhoudt called 911, and confessed to a dispatcher.

“I just killed my wife,” Alan Osterhoudt said, flatly, adding his wife of 20 years was no longer breathing.

Staying on the line, Alan Osterhoudt seemingly realized what was about to happen

“I am afraid I have done the most heinous thing that I have ever done in my life,” Alan Osterhoudt said in a much more emotional voice.

Alan Osterhoudt told the dispatcher he had already placed the gun in a drawer in the house, and he would wait outside for deputies to arrive.

“I’m not going to resist,” Alan Osterhoudt said.

“I can’t comprehend how this happens,” Marro said recently, reflecting on the shooting. “Nothing is that important.”

Marro said Maria Osterhoudt became friends with his girlfriend, Susan, first, when Maria Osterhoudt waved her over at the dog park. Marro said Maria Osterhoudt was a daily presence at the park with her dog, Bo, a beagle-Australian shepherd mix.

“It was the same group seven days a week,” Marro said. “Maria was there every day except Sunday, when she went to church.”

Marro remembers his friend as “selfless” and “giving.” When Marro’s son became interested in computer science – her field of expertise – Maria Osterhoudt started passing along books on the topic.

Maria Osterhoudt was born in 1947 in Tarpon Springs, the younger of two daughters. She attended high school in East Orange, N.J., and college at Jersey City State College.

She would eventually go on to get her master’s degree and teach computer science at St. Petersburg College in Tarpon Springs.

Maria Osterhoudt’s son, Raymond Carter, said she was a lifelong student, even between schooling and owning her own businesses.

“My mom was always in school,” Carter said. “My whole high school career she was always learning something different.”

Maria Osterhoudt was an active member of her church, Mt. Olive in Clearwater, and was planning to teach a computer literacy class there after she retired.

Maria Osterhoudt’s sister, Sylvia Clark, said her sister specialized in six instruments, especially the piano, as well as gardening and other creative endeavors.

“She was born with obstacles and overcame them,” Clark said. “If you’re smart, you live with what you got, and that’s why she excelled.”

Maria Osterhoudt’s son said one of the things his misses most is just going over to her house, talking and spending time with her.

“Our favorite thing was to give each other a hug, and that’s been lacking for the last 18 months,” Carter said, a sentiment echoed by Maria Osterhoudt’s sister.

“My sister said when she retired, we’d sit on the porch together and watch the world go by,” Clark said. “I still think about calling her … I miss the hell out of my sister.”

Alan Osterhoudt was charged with second degree murder with a firearm about two weeks after his wife’s death. His jury trial is set to begin on Sept. 23.

Alan Osterhoudt was released on $250,000 bond in the days following his arrest. Bond conditions require him to wear a GPS monitor and stay in his home except for religious services, medical treatment and attorney meetings, as well as grocery shopping and retrieving his mail. He remains in the Raymond Drive home.

If convicted, Alan Osterhoudt faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years, and up to life in prison.

“I will be in the very front row,” Carter said.

wbiddlecombe@hernandotoday .com

(352) 544-5283