Texas A&M System Announces Death Of Administrator, Former Student, And Retired Lawmaker John Otto

A recent Texas A&M system administrator, former A&M student, and retired state representative has died.

John Otto, class of 1970, served as the A&M system’s director of local government relations.

Before that, the Dayton accountant served 12 years in the legislature in a district composed of Walker, Liberty, and San Jacinto counties. He chaired the House Appropriations Committee and served on the Legislative Budget Board and the Legislative Audit Committee.

Funeral services for John Otto, who died at the age of 71 from pancreatic cancer, is Thursday at 2 p.m. at A&M United Methodist Church in College Station.

News release from the Texas A&M system:

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.