Otho Lathel Barnett, born July 9, 1905 near La Plata, MO, was the son of George Milton and Mary Robena (Lyda) Barnett. He and Mauretta Louise Baity of La Plata married August 25, 1926 and raised two daughters, Jane Louise and Mary Flo, before her death in 1957. His second marriage, June 21, 1958, was to Martha Virginia (Broadus) Wilkins. Otho died in Kirksville September 5, 1979 and was buried at Maple Hills Cemetery.
After graduating from La Plata High School in 1923, Otho began working on a Bachelor of Science in Education at Northeast Missouri State Teachers College (now Truman State University), Kirksville. He left to teach at Leadwood, MO for one year, 1925-26, then returned to Kirksville and taught at Kirksville Junior High School while completing his degree. After it was awarded in 1928, he transferred to the senior high school to teach Industrial Arts. He was also the KHS basketball coach.
Otho received his Master of Arts from the University of Missouri the summer of 1939 and that fall accepted a position as Professor of Industrial Arts at Northeast. He was named Head of the newly organized Division of Practical Arts in 1942 and continued in that position until his retirement with emeritus status in 1968. During World War II, Barnett served as supervisor of the college Aviation Cadet Program and in 1955 started the state’s first college training program for high school drivers’ education teachers. From 1953 till 1968, years of considerable campus expansion, he was coordinator of the college building program.
Barnett worked actively with the young people of the community, serving as a Boy Scout troop leader and as a public school football and basketball referee for over twenty years. He was a member and long-time officer of the Kirksville Rotary Club and served several terms on the Kirksville Planning and Zoning Commission. He was also a member of the Missouri and Mississippi Valley Industrial Education Associations.
After his death, the Otho Barnett Memorial Scholarship for students from La Plata was established and in 1982, the Industrial Education Building was renamed Barnett Hall in his honor.
“10 Members Join College Faculty”. The Index. 22 Sept 1939.
“Alumni Notes”. Nemoscope 10:4 (Summer 1956).
“Former Chairman Dies Sept 5”. The Index. 13 Sept 1979.
Guile, Pat. “Industrial Education Building Renamed”. The Index. 28 Jan 1982.
“Obituaries: Otho Barnett”. Kirksville Daily Express. 6 Sept 1979.