Hurst Otto, 86, who helped bring JUCO to Junction, had many talents

Hurst Otto is shown in 2011 at Suplizio Field in Grand Junction. He was one of the original Junior College World Series committee members, a former Grand Junction city councilman and a retired optometrist. Otto died Wednesday at the age of 86.

Hurst Otto didn’t just get involved in western Colorado life. He hit it out of the park.

A number of fans of the wildly successful Junior College World Series would have known Otto, one of original JUCO Committee members and persons responsible for bringing the tournament to Grand Junction.

Otto, 86, died Wednesday after battling cancer, a family member said.

“I would describe my father as a Renaissance man,” said his daughter, Jane Otto. “He was a keen gardener, involved in JUCO, he made furniture, he loved jazz.”

“He was an avid reader, he was interested in nature and science, he loved his patients, he hunted, he fished,” she said, listing his myriad interests. “As a daughter, having a dad like mine made it really difficult for me to find a husband.”

Up until last year, Otto volunteered for JUCO, overseeing the host program, a welcome committee for traveling teams.

“Since Day One, even last year, he’d still come to meetings,” said Bruce Hill, vice president of JUCO’s operations. “Hurst was committed to making Grand Junction a better place to live, work and play.”

Otto established his optometry practice in 1955, and in 1982 he was recognized as Colorado’s Optometrist of the Year for providing outstanding service.

A tireless volunteer, Otto was a member of the Grand Junction Lions Club and worked to improve parks on Grand Junction’s Parks Improvement Advisory Board. He worked to help plan Canyon View Park.

Her father was most proud of working with JUCO, serving as a committee member for 45 years, Jane Otto said.

Hurst Otto was inducted into JUCO’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

Though her father was extensively involved in civic life, he was humble and shied away from the spotlight, Jane Otto said.

He relished life’s simpler pleasures, “pausing in his garden to watch birds or take in cloud formations,” Jane Otto penned in his obituary.

“He was extremely quiet and reserved,” she added.

Otto married his high school sweetheart, Phyllis, and they celebrated their 65th anniversary this year.

“He always said the two things he couldn’t do was bake a pie and play the piano,” Jane Otto said. “That’s the two things that my mother did really well.”

Hurst Otto also is survived by two sons, Gregory of Basalt and Chris of Barrington, Ill.; two sisters, Pat Grunwald of Yarmouth, Maine, and Mary Bandy of Lake Point, Calif.; and three grandchildren.

Services are pending.


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Amy, thank you for your story about Hurst. He really was a respected member the GJ Lions Club, JUCO Committee and of our community.

Well done.

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