Russell Leroy Otte



Russell Leroy Otte died on March 11, 2022, surrounded by his daughters, wife, and sister. He is survived by his two daughters, Erin Otte Richards (James Richards) and Joyce Otte (Daniel Berger), his three cherished grandchildren, Fiona Richards, Henry Berger, and Rosalie Berger, and his sister, Janice Read (Mike Read, niece Jessica Read). He was also the beloved husband of Sara Hopkins and his first wife, Rose Kelly Otte.

Russ began his study of music very early in life, and, by his early teens, was playing the organ at church services in Seymour, Indiana. He went on to study music at Indiana University from which he graduated in 1967. His first teaching position was in Kokomo and later in Fort Wayne, Indiana at Homestead High School. It was there that he developed his love of musical theater productions. He would go on to be the musical director of several dozen student musicals. After his time at Homestead High, Russ studied at the University of Oregon and then spent 26 years teaching choir and music theory at Ashland High School. His students often say that he taught them about life as much as about music.

Throughout his life, Russ was an active community member. He sang with the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers and the Trinity Episcopal Church choir. He was a long-term volunteer with Habitat for Humanity where the best days were the ones when families got the keys to their homes. He also participated with Trinity Episcopal Cathedral (Portland) with their service trips to Nicaragua and Honduras.

Russ was blessed by two wonderful marriages. He met his first wife, Rose Kelly Otte, at Indiana University. Her accomplishments in child and youth programs were cut short by her death from breast cancer in 1996. In 2007, Russ was introduced to his second wife, Sara. Their relationship brought him renewed joy and she became his cherished companion and an invaluable part of his family.

After retiring from the school district, Russ and Sara traveled extensively. Their most momentous trip was walking the 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago. In 2019, Russ traveled with his sister Janice to Germany where they were able to meet distant relatives and see the original Otte family homestead.

He loved his daughters fiercely and was proud of all their accomplishments. He loved having his family together. He will be missed by his extended Kelly and Otte families and his Ashland community.

The funeral is Friday, March 25 at 1:30 Ashland OR It is live streamed at:

Memorial contributions can be made to Habitat for Humanity, Rogue Valley Habitat, 2233 S Pacific HWY, Medford, OR 97501.

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