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December 9, 2021

Randolph H. Ott

"I remember it like it was yesterday," was a favorite expression of Randolph Harvey (Randy) Ott, 85, who passed away on October 30, 2021. Randy had many memories and stories about New Glarus, Wisconsin, the small Swiss farming community where he was born on September 20, 1936, to Harvey and Selina Ott.

A New Glarus childhood meant being immersed in Swiss culture, from participating in the annual Wilhelm Tell play to eating Kalberwurst and Bratzeli to learning Swiss German. Although Randy probably knew more Swiss history than U.S. history, he was deeply patriotic with an intense love for America.

Mathematics was Randy's beautiful mistress, and he pursued her with a passion throughout his life. He eagerly completed math correspondence courses in high school, and took as many math classes as he could while completing a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from The Ohio State University. He was finally able to realize his dream of a mathematics degree when he earned an M.S. in Applied Mathematics from the University of New Mexico in 2004.

Randy put his expertise to use in the field of electromagnetic propagation and scattering theory. He worked for a series of government agencies and contractors as a researcher and scientist, developing algorithms to predict radar and satellite performance. One of his best-known algorithms, WAGNER, became the world-wide standard for radio propagation over irregular terrain. Randy's contributions to the field were recognized in 1992 when he was elevated to Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Even though the abstract mathematical realm could dominate his attention, Randy was a caring family man. He and first wife, Ruth Ann Hicks, had three daughters, Laura, Kristen and Barbraa, who he taught to ski and coaxed up countless hiking trails with M&Ms. Randy met his second wife, Katherine, in a swimming pool in Boulder, Colorado, and they shared the same lane for more than 41 years. During that time they lived in Switzerland, and on both coasts, finally landing in Albuquerque where they raised son, Kyle, and daughter, Zoe.

Ever adventurous, Randy loved the challenge of open water swimming and climbing 14,000' peaks in Colorado, but his favorite pastime was following Ohio State football. He was a die-hard Buckeyes fan who bled scarlet and gray. Among his more unique talents were the uncanny knack for finding lost objects and the ability to strike up a conversation with anyone. He was one-of-a-kind, and Randy's family will miss his loving spirit, quirky habits and storytelling.

Randy is survived by wife, Katherine Ott; daughters, Laura McMasters, Kristen Curry, Barbraa Durso, Zoe Yuhas; and son, Kyle Ott; twelve grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Services will be held on Saturday, December 11, 2021, at 2:00 p.m., at Sandia Presbyterian Church.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Visit the online guestbook for Randy at


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