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Christian Otto

1940 - 2013 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Christian Otto Obituary
Otto, Christian F.


Christian Friedrich Otto died on March 27, 2013 after living for 14 months with pancreatic cancer.

Chris was born in New York City on June 16, 1940. He was a lifelong Quaker and member of Flushing Monthly Meeting. He was educated at Friends Seminary, Swarthmore College, the University of the Saar, Saarbrücken, Germany and Columbia University. He taught briefly at Vassar College and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, before taking a position teaching the history of architecture in Cornell University's Department of Architecture. He taught the history of architecture and urbanism to design and history students from 1970 until his death. Through his illness, he continued to teach and meet with graduate students, research and write. His areas of research were eighteenth-century Central European architecture, modern architecture and urbanism, and New York, a city he loved as a native, a scholar and a walker in the city.

Chris was passionate about architecture, and deeply devoted to teaching the history of architecture to adult learners, high school teachers in NEH seminars, undergraduate design students and aspiring historians. His most fulfilling teaching projects were summer architecture programs, where he could bring together history, photography, sketching, watercolor, and the rich sensory experience of a space or landscape. He was mentor to dozens of graduate students, guiding their studies, and then engaging them as younger colleagues in collaborative work and friendships that continued in some cases for decades.

He is survived by his wife and partner, Roberta Moudry; his children, Quinn Otto-Moudry, Emma Otto-Moudry, Jon Otto (and wife Xuehua Zhang and Anora) and Tamara Damon (and husband Gary Keblish and Anja). He is also survived by a sister, Ellie Starfas (and husband Sam Starfas), and extended family Gerard, Agnes and Teresa Moudry. His life was enriched by close friends Mark and Judith Ashton, Lauren O'Connell and Lenny Mirin, and Cris Clay, and he took daily pleasure in life among his SPCA cats Ellie, Ollie, Otis, Pisquat, Nora, Blaze and LK.

In keeping with Chris's wishes, he will be cremated and there will be no service. Written appreciations and remembrances would be treasured by his family. For those wishing to make a memorial donation, please consider Flushing Monthly Meeting or the EAC Montessori School of Ithaca, two institutions dear to Chris for their sustained commitment to peace education.

Published in Ithaca Journal from Mar. 29 to Mar. 30, 2013
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