A&M-San Antonio to fly University flag at half-mast in honor of John Otto

By University Communications

Friday, 08 07 2020

SAN ANTONIO – Texas A&M University-San Antonio will fly the University flag at half-mast Friday in honor of the life of Mr. John Otto. The former state representative and recent assistant vice chancellor and director of local government relations at the Texas A&M University System passed away from pancreatic cancer last weekend. The Office of the Chancellor has shared the following message, which includes details about Mr. Otto’s life and influence, as well as funeral service information.

 Chancellor Sharp has asked that flags be flown at half-mast tomorrow to honor the life of the John Otto. 

A funeral service for John Otto – a respected, fair and widely appreciated former state representative and recent assistant vice chancellor and director of local government relations at the Texas A&M University System – is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday at A&M Methodist Church at 417 University Drive in College Station. Visitation is at 1 p.m.

Additionally, a graveside service will take place at 11 a.m. on Friday at the State Cemetery at 909 Navasota Street in Austin. The cemetery is the final resting place of governors, legislators, members of Congress and other renowned Texans. Other note-worthy Texans buried at the location include Stephen F. Austin, Gov. John Connally, Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock and legendary Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.

Mr. Otto died Saturday from pancreatic cancer. He was 71.

Mr. Otto was known for his seemingly constant positive attitude, his love for his family, his dedication to public service and his enthusiasm for his alma mater, Texas A&M University.

When speaking about Texas A&M, he often would tell people about his time in the Corps of Cadets, particularly his year as a “fish” who looked up to upperclassmen, including former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. Arriving at Texas A&M two years after Mr. Otto were two other notable students whose careers would later – and often – intersect with Mr. Otto’s professional path. Those individuals were, of course, Rick Perry, former Texas governor and U.S. Secretary of Energy, and John Sharp, former state senator and current chancellor of the Texas A&M System.

When speaking of his days at Texas A&M, Mr. Otto usually couldn’t help but express his love for the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. He would tell stories to anyone who asked about his days as the baton-wielding drum major of the band in his senior year of college in the 1969-1970 school year.

Only a few days prior to his death, Chancellor Sharp organized an online event in which his friends, family and former and current Aggies in the Texas House of Representatives joined Mr. Otto virtually. A surprise for Mr. Otto came when he learned that the baton carried by the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band’s drum major will forever be named in his honor.

Mr. Otto, a Republican, had a highly successful life dedicated to public service. Upon graduation from Texas A&M, he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army. He served for eight years on active duty and in the reserves before being honorably discharged.

His selfless service to his communities also included civic and community roles on the Dayton City Council, the Dayton ISD Board of Trustees, the Liberty County Central Appraisal District, the board of directors of the Dayton Chamber of Commerce and other organizations.

But his tenure in the Texas Legislature, which began in 2005 and ran to January 2017, will be remembered as the peak of his career in public service. He represented with distinction the counties of Liberty, San Jacinto and Walker.

In 2005. Mr. Otto was chosen Republican Freshman of the Year. And eventually, Speaker Joe Straus appointed Mr. Otto to be chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He also served on the Legislative Budget Board and the Legislative Audit Committee.

Texas Monthly noted in 2015, when Mr. Otto made the publication’s list of the best state lawmakers, that “(h)is colleagues praised Otto as honest, approachable, and fair”

Representative Otto was a certified public accountant. In a period that ran more than 40 years, he worked for audit and tax service firms, owned his own practice and served as a director of business development for the tax consulting firm Ryan.

Mr. Otto is survived by wife Nancy, his high school sweetheart whom he married in December 1969, while still at Texas A&M. They are the proud parents and grandparents to son Bryan and wife Lisa, and children Brendon, Maddie and Hadley of College Station, and son Jason and wife Brandee, and daughters Bailee, Emilee and Malloree of Kyle.

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Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Established as a stand-alone university in 2009, Texas A&M University-San Antonio is a comprehensive four-year public university that reflects the culturally diverse, heritage-rich community it serves. Situated on nearly 700 acres in south San Antonio, A&M-San Antonio is a Military Embracing™ institution offering 29 undergraduate degrees and 14 graduate degrees to over 6,700 students. The University is home to the Henry G. Cisneros Institute for Emerging Leaders and the Cyber Engineering Technology/Cyber Security Research Center. A&M-San Antonio holds the Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) designation. Military Times ranks the University No. 35 in the nation for “Best for Vets: Colleges.” Visit tamusa.edu for more information. #onamission