SOE News

John Coan Otts, Jr., acting dean of the School of Education from 1965-66, dies at 100

John Coan Otts, Jr., who served on the faculty of the School of Education from 1963-66 and was acting dean during the 1965-66 academic year, died at age 100 on June 12, 2010, in Black Mountain, N.C.   

Otts pursued a long and productive career in education. After his years at Carolina, he became dean of education at the University of South Carolina-Columbia, where he served for a decade. Subsequently he was acting president of the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Va.

Earlier in his career, he was a high school teacher, then a principal, in his hometown of Spartanburg, S.C. He then became an assistant superintendent in the Charlotte (N.C.) City Schools, where he worked to help establish the consolidated Charlotte/Mecklenburg school district and to bring about integration of the school system. His next post took him into higher education – he joined the faculty of Queens College in Charlotte and taught there for a number of years before coming to Carolina.

Otts was preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Lou Bomar Smith Otts, who died in 1999. He is survived by four daughters and numerous other extended family members. 

When asked about her father’s longevity, his daughter Charlotte Otts (M.A.T. ’71) remarked on his positive attitude and strength of character. “He has worked hard and played hard,” she said, on the occasion of his 100th birthday last August. “He is very strong in his beliefs and has been quick to stand up for people when he felt they were being treated unfairly but had done no wrong. He also has had wonderful relationships with friends and family, including nearly 60 years of marriage to our mother, Lou Otts.” 

At the time of John Otts’ death, Charlotte recalled that he had hoped to live to be 100. “He lived a very full life,” she said, adding that after a short period of declining health, “he died very peacefully … just two months and two days before his 101st birthday.”