Otis A. Farmer, 85, of Las Cruces passed away on Nov. 12, 2012. His life journey took him from his birthplace in a small farming community in Kansas to the plains of Texas, the mountains of New Mexico, across the United States and into Canada and Central America, and across the ocean to Japan. He loved learning, traveling, doing, seeing and change, moving often as he found better opportunities. Most of all, he loved family. He spent life with his greatest friend, his wife, Pauline, and their four children.
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Otis was born to Orie and Ethel Farmer on Nov. 10, 1927 on a farm in Hugoton, Kan. He was the only son and sixth child. He graduated from Hugoton High School in 1945 and joined the Army in 1946. Otis was stationed in Tokyo, Japan as a teenager and put in charge of a supply store during the American occupation, which allowed him access to all the occupation photos and photography equipment. He treasured many of these pictures throughout his life.
Otis returned home to Kansas in 1947 and farmed and ran a skating rink with his father. In 1950, Otis decided to go to college. He attended West Texas State in Canyon, Texas where he met his future wife Pauline Higgins. Pauline and Otis were married in 1951. Otis left college to return to farming with his father. During this time daughters Sheila and Jackie were born. Because of the severe dust storms during that period, living and working on a farm had many hardships, so Otis sold the farm and went to work at the gas plant. Desiring a better future for his family, Otis decided to return to college in 1954 with Pauline and his two daughters. Otis graduated in 1956 and moved to Los Alamos with his pregnant wife, his one-year-old son Randy, and two daughters. He began teaching middle school while he looked for openings at the Lab. After his son Tim was born in March of 1957, Otis began working part-time at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and hired on full-time in 1958. Pauline also went to work at the Lab when Tim was in sixth grade. Otis and Pauline both worked at the Laboratory until 1985.
Otis served two terms on the Los Alamos County Council. He received the most votes in 1971 and served as Chairman of the Council. He was elected as Magistrate Judge in 1973 and kept that post until he moved to Las Cruces after his retirement.
Pauline and Otis enjoyed their retirement years and spent a lot of time traveling with their eight grandchildren and their RV group. Highlights included trips to Alaska and a cruise through the Panama Canal. Otis orchestrated many family reunions over the years, and he truly enjoyed everyone getting together as often as possible. The game of golf was also a large part of Otis' life for many years. He loved the game and was very accomplished, winning many tournaments while he lived in Los Alamos.
Otis is survived by his wife Pauline; four children: Sheila Riedel (Joe), Jackie Barnett, Randy Farmer (Cindy), and Tim Farmer (Beverly); eight grandchildren: Marna Riedel, Frank Barnett, Jennifer Perkins, Melissa Espinoza, Laura Talley, Lisa Farmer, Heidi Farmer, and Heather Farmer; and five great-grandchildren: Carter Talley, Allison Barnett, Shannon Talley, Hailey Barnett, Amalia Perkins also survive him. Other survivors include Don Dwyer (Marie) of Las Cruces, one of Otis' many nieces and nephews. His parents and five sisters preceded him in death.
Otis was a unique and unforgettable person. He passed on his work ethic, passion for public service, and lifelong love of learning to his children and grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.
A celebration of Otis' life will be held at 11:30 a.m. on November 24, 2012 at Sonoma Springs Covenant Church, 3940 Sonoma Springs Avenue, Las Cruces, N.M. Memorials may be made to Mesilla Valley Hospice, 299 Montana Avenue, Las Cruces, NM 88005.
Published in Los Alamos Monitor from Nov. 13 to Nov. 14, 2012