Otto Gutenson, 68, of Lovettsville, Virginia passed away on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Otto was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on August 21, 1948, the son of the late Otto and Dorothy Gutenson. He is survived by his wife, Debra Gutenson, two children, Alexander Gutenson and his wife Angela, and Andrew Gutenson, and grandchildren Kaitlin, Josh, Jake and Luke (all of Northern Virginia). In addition to devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Otto was an ardent environmentalist and a member of Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church.
Otto grew up in Vienna, Virginia where he graduated from James Madison High School. Otto obtained a bachelor’s of science in biology from Virginia Tech in 1970 and went on to earn his master’s degree in biology in 1979 from George Mason University. After graduation, he worked at Litton Bionetics, and was in the Neurological Disease and Stroke unit at the National Institutes of Health for 11 years. He then began a notable career dedicated to the conservation and protection of the environment, serving in various roles at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) until his retirement in 2008.
Throughout his tenure at EPA and into retirement, he volunteered endless hours actively working to protect the environment for the benefit of generations to come. He was a graduate of the 1993-94 class of Leadership Loudoun, designed to develop current and emerging leaders in the county to work together to make a better community. He spent the next two decades doing just that.
Just a sampling of his efforts includes becoming a charter member and past treasurer of Loudoun Future. He was on the steering committee and charter member of Sustainable Loudoun Network. He was on the steering committee and EPA liaison for the Loudoun Environmental Indicators Project of George Washington University. He served on the Loudoun County Board of the Piedmont Environmental Council. He served on the board of directors as public policy chairman for the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. He became a certified Virginia Master Naturalist. He was a member of the Catoctin Creek Watershed Project and the North Fork Goose Creek Project, and a founding member of the Catoctin Creek Scenic River Advisory Committee. In short, he was a tireless water quality advocate, fought for sustainable growth and got his feet wet doing water quality monitoring.
He was deeply committed to volunteer activities that benefited not only the environment but also society’s most needy, serving with the Lovettsville Lions Club.
As he raised his two sons, Otto was involved as a volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America, attending summer camps, pinewood derbies, and endless weekly meetings. He enjoyed his sons’ science projects, probably more than they did. He taught them by example how to be patient and meticulous in approaching any problem.
At his core, he was a fixer. Whether he was tinkering with something that needed fixing or advocating to right a wrong, he was active in taking a hand-on approach to making things right.
Otto, a man without artifice, was known for his quick and irreverent wit. He spoke his mind freely and gave of his time generously. He loved reading, lively debate, and volunteering his time for the betterment of his community.
A graveside service was held on September 24 at the Lovettsville Union Cemetery, followed by a memorial service at Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church in Purcellville, with Rev. Dr. David Milam and Rev. Jessica McClure Archer officiating. Donations may be made to the Piedmont Environmental Council for the Catoctin Conservation Fund. (PEC 45 Horner Street Warrenton VA 20186 Attn: Doug Larson.) Arrangements by Hall Funeral Home of Purcellville VA. www.hallfh.com