Joseph L. Otello Jr.

Passed away on January 28, 2020

Joseph L. Otello, Jr. (Joe), 70, died Tuesday, January 28, 2020 on his 5 mile walk up Merrickville Road. His death was the result of an injury he sustained from a fall the previous day.

Joe was the son of Joseph L. Otello, Sr. and Ruth V. (Decker) Otello. He married his wife, Donna Hotaling Otello, in 1985. That same year, they purchased Beach Tavern, a Circa 1790 stagecoach inn. Joe spent the next 35 years committed to the preservation and restoration of this historic, local treasure.

Joe started working at the age of 16 at the Oneonta Country Club. He went on to a myriad of jobs, including local restarant work and the building trade. In the 1990's he returned to college, graduating from SUNY Delhi, SUNY Oneonta, and the College of Saint Rose. He taught K-3 Special Education, working at Center Street and Valleyview Elementary Schools. Working with his students brought great joy to his life.

He retired from teaching in 2014 and enjoyed his walks, practicing yoga, traveling, and working in his gardens. He also enjoyed ceramics and had a knack for creating beautiful pottery pieces which he loved to give to family and friends.

Joe was a devoted family man. He dearly loved his sister, Linda Oliver and her husband, John. He cherished their two sons: Peter and his wife Lisa and their two girls, Alaina and Brooke; and Joseph (JJ) and his wife Jen and their two girls Viola and Lily. He deeply loved all his cousins and their children, many of whom referred to him as "Uncle Joe." Joe is predeceased by his parents and beloved cousins, Norma, Gina, Lorraine and David.

On Friday, February 21, visitation will be held from 5-7pm at the Lester R. Grummons Funeral home, 14 Grand St., Oneonta. If they wish, visitors may bring an identified picture of them and Joe to hang on the board. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10am Saturday, February 22, at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 39 Walnut Street, Oneonta. There will be a reception and memorial gathering immediately following the service at the St. Mary's Parish Center across the street. Instead of flowers, the family requests that donations be made, in Joe's name, to the Franklin Emergency Squad, P.O. Box 8, Franklin, NY 13775. These dedicated volunteers worked valiantly to save Joe, for which the family will be eternally grateful.

To offer condolences to the family, please visit:

Arrangements are by the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, Oneonta.

If we could choose the best way for our journey here on earth to end, it would be Joe's way-loving our family and friends; proud of our life's accomplishments; and at peace with ourselves.


  • Calling Hours

    Friday, February 21, 2020

  • Funeral Mass

    Saturday, February 22, 2020


Joseph L. Otello Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Alan Schutte

February 21, 2020


I'm gonna miss hanging out with you in those lawn chairs. You and Donna always made Mary and I feel so welcome when we visited the Beach Tavern over the years.

You always had such a great, laid-back outlook on life. I was always jealous of your even-keeledness. :)

Our condolences to all, we'll miss you. -Alan and Mary

Annemarrie Winchester

February 19, 2020

I am so very sorry for the sudden loss of your husband. You are in my thoughts.

Martha Forgiano

February 19, 2020

I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Joe. I enjoyed working with Joe during his tenure as a Special Education Teacher. He was devoted to his students. He was a good friend. Rest In Peace.

Richard Parsons

February 13, 2020

We will not be in the area for the funeral but want you to know that our thoughts and love are with you as you go through the loss of Joe.

Rich and Kathy


February 5, 2020


Kathy Utter

February 5, 2020

I was so sad to hear of Joe’s passing. He was such a happy fun loving guy. Donna you are in my thoughts and prayers. Please know if you need anything even just to talk, I’m here for you. Love to you and your family at this most difficult time.🙏🙏🙏❤️❤️❤️❤️

Bill Simons

February 2, 2020

News of Joe's passing brings sadness but also a number of warm memories. Joe was a great guy. A generation ago I met Joe and Donna as non-traditional students taking one of my history courses at SUNY Oneonta. With their life experiences, they added a special dimension to the class, and they subsequently took other history courses with me. A strong friendship developed between us.
Joe went on to a great career as a teacher. He was also a union activist, and we participated in some labor rallies together.
At the Stagecoach Run in Treadwell in 2018 Nancy and I ran into Joe and Donna, and they invited us back for a tour of their early American house across from the river in Franklin. Joe had done excellent restoration work on the house. Donna served refreshments. Joe and Donna discussed their plans for a stint in Italy. The four of us had a great time that afternoon.
Joe will be greatly missed by his students, friends, and family. Above all, our deepest condolences to Donna.
Bill Simons, Oneonta

Teddie Storey

January 30, 2020

It is with sadness that we learned of Joe's passing. Sincerest condolences to Donna, family and friends. We have lost another great guy. May he rest in peace.

Suzanne Smith

January 30, 2020

Learning of Joe's passing is such sad news. I can just picture us standing by the bookcases near the OHS cafeteria. You are in good hands "Joey". Know your cousins Norma and Gina were waiting to greet you. May God bless and watch over your wife and deepest sympathies.