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Duane “Ottie” Benard Otness, age 71, of Buffalo passed away peacefully on Wednesday, October 5, 2022, at the St. Cloud Hospital from the progressive illness of pulmonary fibrosis.

He was born on June 7, 1951, in Minneapolis, MN, the son of Donald and Gladys (Hamilton) Otness.

On August 28, 1982, Duane Otness and Rita Varner were united in marriage on the Varner family farm in rural Buffalo. Ottie would say he was blessed with two beautiful daughters and six beloved grandchildren.

Ottie worked hard as an Independent Sales Representative and Pharmacy Designer, taking pride in his work. He owned his company, All-Med Systems and Design, until his retirement in 2016. Ottie was a faithful member of the Buffalo United Methodist Church, a leader of the Methodist Men’s Fellowship and a committed confirmation Faith Partner. His faith was quiet and strong. It was the cornerstone of his life. It showed through every interaction at the front doors of his church where he served as a greeter for 25 years.

There was only one Ottie. To have met him once was to instantly love him. His smile brightened any room, and his laugh was unforgettable. Ottie was known to be genuine, supportive, servant-hearted, detailed, positive and as many would say, one-of-a-kind. He simply loved people. It didn’t matter who they were. He cared about them, he was interested in them, and he gave them his time and attention. Ottie did love to talk!

He was incredibly passionate about the sport of wrestling, having been a wrestler for Wayzata High School, where he graduated in 1969. He furthered that passion as the “voice” of Wright County Wrestling on KRWC radio for more than 25 years.

His training at Anoka Vo-tech in Small Engine Repair led him to an interest in cars and motors, and specifically a love of racecars. Whether it was Nascar or dirt track, or for the last seven years racing his own 1960 Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite around a road course.

He didn’t mind getting his hands dirty. From working on projects in his shop, fixing his car, taking care of the farm he and Rita enjoyed living on, pulling fish off the line at the family cabin, or hunting in northern MN with his friends.

There was no doubt that aside from his faith and his passions in life, his number one love was that of his family. He faithfully supported the many endeavors of his wife, girls, and grandkids. He adored every moment he could with his family and never missed an opportunity to tell them how proud of them he was.

Survived by his loving wife of forty years Rita Varner-Otness; daughters Sheila (Andrew) Smude of Buffalo and Gretchen Otness of Willmar; grandchildren Connor, Emma, Nathan, Malachi, Nova and Maya Smude; grand-pup Gus; sister Barbara (Rick) Karkhoff of Ironton; brother Preston (Lynne) Otness of Brainerd; sister-in-law Jan Otness of Pine River; many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Preceded in death by his parents and brother Darrell Otness.

Celebration of Life for Duane “Ottie” Otness will be held on Friday, October 14, 2022, at 2:00 PM at Buffalo United Methodist Church, Buffalo, MN.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, October 13, 2022, from 4-7 PM at Buffalo United Methodist Church.  Further visitation will take place one hour prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to the 877 Scholarship Foundation in the name of the Ottie Otness Wrestling Scholarship or Buffalo United Methodist Church

The Peterson Chapel, Buffalo assisted the family with arrangements. On-line condolences can be made at

The Celebration of Life will be streamed at: search “BUMC Celebrations”

23 Guestbook Entries

  1. Becky Rick Elsenpeter

    Ottie’s smile, exuberance, love of life, and pride of his wonderful wife, family and grandchildren will never fade. Your family is a Buffalo Cornerstone and his death is a heartbreaker. God’s love and strength to you all at this most difficult time.

  2. Eileen Erickson

    We will miss you Ottie!! Such a wonderful guy who touched many lives during his lifetime from the racing communities, to the local high school wrestling community and many others! Thoughts and prayers are with you all at this difficult time!

  3. Rick Fisk

    Sorry to hear of Ottie’s passing. He was a good guy and missed at the race track this year.

  4. Peter Taft

    We knew Duane through racing. We paddocked near him. Wonderful man. So sorry for you loss
    Peter and Mary Taft
    Ocelot 127

  5. Greg M Wilson

    Ottie you have affected so many people in so many wonderful ways. You were always the first person reach out help others. A great husband, father, grandfather and friend. May God Bless you and your family.

  6. Ann Marie DeWolfe

    So very sorry for your loss. Hope all your wonderful memories give you some peace. Hug each other tight and take it one moment at a time

  7. Doug Bruce

    I was so sorry to hear of Ottie’s passing. From racing against him, sharing stories at the track, or just working on our cars before the next race session, he was always smiling and enjoying life. I only wished I had talked to him about wrestling-one of my loves as well, but the cars just always got in the way! Rest in peace my friend.

  8. Michael Tucker

    Ottie – May fair winds always blow to your back with the sun to your face, to illuminate the smile and life that shined on so many others, thank you for passing through my life.

  9. Nila Bursheim (Raisanen)

    I was just one of the many fans in the stands with Ottie at many sporting events. I’m so sorry for the loss of such a smiling individual. I didn’t know him personally but I knew exactly who he was in person or on the KRWC airwaves. My thoughts and prayers go out to you.

  10. Eunice Halverson

    Rita, Sheila and Gretchen and the rest of the family — we share your grief as your dear hubby and daddy-o transitioned to his eternal home. No…more….pain! What an awesome person! Sending lots of hugs, love and prayer from St. Louis!

  11. Mike

    The World would be a better place if there were more Ottie’s in this World You will Live forever in our hearts

  12. Dic Danielson

    So sorry to hear about Ottie, he always had that great smile and a kind word. Thoughts and prayers to Rita and the girls. God Bless

  13. Peter Smith

    I had the good fortune to cross paths with Duane through business and I thoroughly enjoyed working with him for more than 30 years as an independent sales representative of our family business. Duane’s sincere interest in others was displayed during every interaction, his content of character was consistently exceptional, his commitment to the customers that he served was exhibited on every project. Duane’s positive energy was heard through his stories and clearly seen through his smile, and he was a very genuine and sincere person that was a great example for all that crossed his path. We will miss you Duane, but we will never forget you!

  14. Judy klatt

    Deepest sympathy Rita and the family on your loss.

  15. Dave Ahlm

    Glad to have known Ottie, may he rest in peace. My thoughts and prayers to you Rita and the family.

  16. Jan Heyerdahl

    Love flowed from Ottie as he welcomed people to church on Sunday mornings! He put smiles on the faces and joy in the hearts of those who crossed his path. He never held back kind words and shared memories freely. Trips to Europe and the South Pacific with Rita and the girls gave him much to recall! I adore the love he showed his family, and I will never forget his friendship. Rita, Sheila, Gretchen, and family, may you feel God’s comfort and know His peace.

  17. Sue Peters

    So sorry for your loss Rita and family. Cherish the memories you have with him. In our thoughts and prayers.
    Mark and Sue Peters and family

  18. Allen Faue

    Oh, where to start. I first met Ottie in 1963 at the Junior High School on the west side of Wayzata. We initially met while playing football. I remember a sock hop dance in late fall of our 7th or 8th grade year we attended. A good part of the evening was spent standing off the dance floor area trying to figure which girl to ask for a dance, go figure! Over the ensuing years our friendship continued and there are plenty of stories that could be shared of some of the crazy things we did, often with other friends. I will keep those memories personal so as not to impugn Ottie’s and especially my own reputation.

    You could always tell when he was around by his laughter and his smile. He always was a talker and he could go on for a long time telling people about what he had been doing either by himself or with others. Quite often there was something in the story that was amusing and you knew it by his laughing.
    I fondly remember visiting Rita and Ottie when Sheila and Gretchen were babies and in their younger years. You knew that Rita and the girls were the most important people in his life. IN the late 70’s I had move away only to return in 1980. Then in 1982 I had moved out of the area again and just returned this past May.
    Our contact in the 80’s through the early 2000’s was mainly when Ottie was traveling through the Fargo-Moorhead area on business and through exchanging Christmas greetings. Although, it had been several years since we had last talked always at some point my thoughts would drift off to wondering what was happening in his and Rita’s life. Unfortunately, when I returned to the area this spring it became too easy to put off reaching out to say “Hi, I’ve moved back. How is everything with you and the family.” Then last week I received a call from Sheila to inform me that he had passed on and now I sit knowing that I failed Ottie and myself by not reaching out to say that “Hi, I’ve moved back. How is life with you and the family.” It is something that will haunt me all of my remaining days.

    To my Friend Ottie” aka Duane Benard Otness I say “Hi”, knowing that he is in a better place and I know that he has heard my words. God bless Rita, Sheila, Gretchen, his grandchildren, and all of the friends he has left behind.

  19. Aaron Wine

    Ottie was a great guy. We loved seeing him at Northern Pines. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten. Prayers for the family.

    Love & God Bless,
    Aaron Wine

  20. Rita Marschel

    My deepest sympathy to you and your family. Find comfort in all your beautiful memories.

  21. Tim Hughes

    I am so sorry to hear of
    Duwayne’s passing !
    Just heard of it today Nov 1
    Good bye to my former
    Prayers for the family !

  22. Sharon Kaufman

    Rita so sorry for your loss. Sending prayers to you and your family

  23. Wes and Lois Spadgenske

    So sorry to hear of Ottie’s passing. Just heard it last week from the Pearsons at R&J. They said you were on a trip which would be honoring him. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you grieve.


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