James 'Jim' W. Otto



Troy - James ‘Jim’ W. Otto, 79, died at home Saturday evening June 19, 2021, of complications from myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow malfunction/blood cancer. His wife, Jane, was by his side. 

Jim grew up in Berea and Olmsted Falls, OH. He was a scholarship student at Phillips Exeter Academy for two years and at Princeton University for two years. He then qualified for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Marine Aviation Cadet (MARCAD) program. After basic and flight training, he served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 261 in the mid-1960s. Toward the end of his active duty tour, he met coach Woody Hayes, who encouraged Jim to attend Ohio State University after military service to continue studying math and computer science. So, he did.

After three years in Columbus, OH, he took a job in Cleveland, where he met his future wife. In the 1970s, Jim and Jane joined the Peace Corps and worked nearly four years in Nairobi, Kenya. At the Central Bureau of Statistics, Jim applied his skills in computer programming and systems analysis to national surveys – agricultural, health, economic, and more. That experience turned into a career in survey data processing, during which he enthusiastically provided technical support and training for staff in statistics offices in 16 sub-Saharan African countries.

Throughout his life, Jim loved being physically active, especially outdoors, enjoying many sports — cycling, hiking, rugby, running, soccer, tennis, and cross-country skiing, to name a few. He was an avid reader of fiction and nonfiction, with an impish sense of humor. Jim listened to all types of music, liked to cook, insisted on mowing lawns with a push mower, and relished spirited discussions around the table with friends and family while sharing good beer/wine and tasty food. Prime numbers and plays on words brought a grin to his face. 

After many years living and working abroad, including in England and France, and in the Washington, DC, metro area, Jim and Jane moved to scenic upstate New York to enjoy the four seasons, life in the slower lane, and the wealth of cultural offerings in the Capital Region and towns nearby.

Jim will be fondly remembered and missed by his wife of nearly 50 years; his brother Bob (Igna) Otto of Montreal, Canada; his sister Judy (Dave) Hay of Pittsburgh, PA; his first cousin Bonnie (Wayne) Hudson of Reston, VA; his sister-in-law Pat (Larry) Schmoranz of Ellenton, FL; his nephew Tom (Kathy) Hay; his niece Pam (Jeff) Young; his nephew Chris (Emily) Torrey; seven great-nieces and -nephews; other cousins and their children; his long-time friend Roy (Becky) Lock of Exmore, VA: and friends and former colleagues in Africa, Europe, and the United States.

Jim’s family extends heartfelt thanks to the nurses at St. Mary’s Infusion Center, Troy, led by Donna Clement; everyone at the Troy office of New York Oncology Hematology; Community Hospice staff; and very special neighbors Myra, Bernice, and Jackie for their care and support.

Per his wishes, Jim’s body was cremated. His family and friends will hold a celebration in his honor at a later date. In lieu of flowers, remember Jim when you enjoy a long walk or bike ride, attend a thrilling concert, read a good book, or see a beautiful sunrise/sunset.

Those wishing to offer a donation in his memory may contribute to the American Red Cross, 33 Everett Rd., Albany, NY, 12205; your local food bank or animal shelter; or Doctors Without Borders, 40 Rector St., 16 th floor, New York, NY, 10006.

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American Red Cross
P.O. Box 4002018, Des Moines IA 50340
Tel: 1-800-733-2767

Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York
965 Albany-Shaker Road, Latham NY 12110

Mohawk Hudson Humane Society
3 Oakland Avenue, Menands NY 12204

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