Russell Walter Otto

Russell Walter Otto, died May 29, 2023 in Laramie. He was born in 1936 in Burlington, Wisconsin. He is survived by his wife, Gail; son, Chris (wife Mickie), daughter Julie (husband Drew); grandchildren, Riley (wife Jessica), Tyler, Evan, and Brennen.

Russ had a master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Wyoming.

He taught American Studies in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, for 17 years and taught American Studies in Rawlins, Wyoming for 19 years.

Russ enjoyed teaching High School students, hiking, hunting, black powder hunting, fishing, reading, and discussing many books with his friends.

A service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, June 17, 2023, at the First United Methodist Church in Laramie (1215 E. Gibbon Street).

Donations can be made in Russ’s name, to the First United Methodist Church in Laramie or the American Studies Program at the University of Wyoming.

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Condolences (6)

  • Rhett Epler

    I remember Russ from Lovejoy's in Laramie. He was always a very nice guy and a pleasure to talk with. My condolences to the Otto family.

  • April Jaure

    Mr. Otto was my high school English teacher in Rawlins Wyoming. I had a propensity for writing and was used to whipping out my essays for other classes without much thought or effort. As a Sophomore (maybe Junior) in High School I remember the first essay I wrote for Mr. Otto, completed in my usual manner. When I got my essay back I saw a big red D on it! Next to it was a note that said, "A little more thought next time, please." So I learned that I had to not just have raw talent, but I had to also master the skill of writing. Mr. Otto taught me those skills. He taught me how to organize my papers, and he showed me techniques for writing introductions, conclusions, and transitions. I eventually earned an A from him and I was so proud of it, because I knew I had earned it. He didn't lavish much praise, but when he did, he meant it, like the time he wrote "Very insightful. You caught on to much in the story that your classmates missed." I saved those essays for many years. He also wrote things like, "You misspelled 'college' several times. You should learn how to spell it, especially if you want to go there." I noted that and did learn the difference between collage and college, and I did go to college where I got my degree in English from a small college in Wisconsin. Here I have written and edited blogs and books. I am a free-lance writer and I am currently working on a Master's degree in Theology. I am 44 now, but rarely a day goes by that I don't still use the skills Mr. Otto taught me. Thank you and God bless you, Mr. Otto!

  • Eric Sandeen

    On behalf of the American Studies Program we honor the memory of one of our graduates. Thank you, Mr. Otto, for your life of teaching and learning. Eric Sandeen, Professor Emeritus of American Studies


    Russ was a wonderful friend of my family. We belonged to the same church in Rawlins. We worked on many things for the church together. We were fellow teachers and sat on a number of committees together. He taught all of my children. We will all miss him. May his family find peace in the wonderful memories of a fine father, teacher and man.

  • Amanda Blackmon

    Russ was such a special man and I am so thankful to have known him. I never got tired of seeing him or hearing his stories. I still remember when I first met him and he would wear his shirts with "grammar jokes" on them. His love of movies will always stay with me. I will never forget when I had surgery and he shared many of his favorites with me to watch during my extended down time. He has left a tremendous mark on my heart.

  • Melanie Reed

    Mr. Otto was a great teacher! I enjoyed his classes and learned so much. He was passionate about what he taught which made him a great teacher. He was fair and caring. Condolences to his family. Rest in Peace Mr. Otto.


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