William O. “Bill” Otto, 79, La Crosse, formerly of Stevens Point, died Thursday, June 28, 2012, at Hillview Health Care Center in La Crosse, following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
Private family services will be held at a later date. Burial will be in Oak Grove Cemetery in La Crosse.
Memorials may be directed to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UW-La Crosse) Foundation for the Dr. William “Bill” Otto-Rho Phi Lambda Scholarship, Trinity Lutheran Church in La Crosse, or a charity of the one’s choice.
Jandt-Fredrickson Funeral Homes and Crematory of La Crosse assisted the family with arrangements. Condolences may be offered online at www.jandtfredrickson.com.
Mr. Otto was born May 28, 1933, in Onalaska, a son of the late William A. and Marie K. (Worthman) Otto. He graduated from Onalaska High School in 1951.
He began working toward his college degree at UW-La Crosse when he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served as an EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) specialist from 1953 until being honorably discharged in 1955.
After military service, he returned to UW-La Crosse to pursue a bachelor of science degree in physical education. In 1957, he began his teaching career at P.J. Jacobs High School in Stevens Point, where he taught P.E. and coached football, tennis and swimming, and later became supervisor of P.E. for the elementary schools.
He was married to his wife, Mary Jo, on Aug. 9, 1963.
They returned to La Crosse in 1964 where he began a 27-year teaching career at UW-La Crosse. During this time period, he also obtained a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado and a doctorate of education from the University of Utah. Upon his retirement in 1991, he was deemed professor emeritus. He served as the chairman for the Department of Recreation and Parks from 1968 to 1980, graduate coordinator for the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation from 1985 to 1988, and as interim Dean of the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation from 1988 to 1989.
He also developed the master of science degree in recreation and parks administration-therapeutic recreation in 1977. He was a faculty advisor for the Blue Key, National Honor Fraternity for 20 years, Sigma Lambda Sigma for 12 years, Rho Phi Lambda for four years, Recreation Majors Club for six years and the American Camping Association for six years.
Survivors include his wife; two sons, Lt. Col. William (Jean), Laurel, Md., and Jeff, Silver Spring, Md.; one sister, Marilyn Hayes, Onalaska; and one stepgrandson.
He was also preceded in death by two sisters, Shirley (Dick) Zischke and Dolyce (Russ) Skogen.