Otto Zinser

October 24, 1940 ~ October 15, 2019

Born in: Schröttersburg, Germany
Resided in: Johnson City, TN

Otto Zinser, PhD, Johnson City, passed away on Tuesday, October 15 at his home surrounded by his wife and children.

He was born (1940) in Schröttersburg, Germany (currently Plock, Poland) and immigrated to the United States as a child in 1952.

He was preceded in death by his parents, the late Edward and Berta Zinser. In 1958, he was happy to become a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Beyond the years of early schooling in Germany, his educational years were spent in Hartford, Connecticut. He completed the BS in psychology in 1964 at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut and then went on to complete an MA (1968) and the PhD (1970) in experimental psychology at Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1984, he published a textbook in experimental psychology, Basic Principles of Experimental Psychology, with McGraw-Hill Book Company, published research articles in psychology journals, and presented papers at psychology conventions on the subjects of cognition, animal learning, developmental psychology, social psychology, and pattern perception.

In 1969, he accepted a position with the Night Vision Laboratory at Fort Belvoir as a civil service employee in psychology, and in 1970 he accepted a position as an assistant professor of psychology at East Tennessee State University. He retired from ETSU in 2006 and taught in the department until 2010 on a part-time basis. He also served as the chairman of the department from 1978-1985. He was a member of the ETSU Retirement Association. He loved his professional life at ETSU – that included teaching, research, and service – working with his colleagues, and with the many students he had the privilege of knowing. He was a member of the ETSU President’s Circle.

He is survived by his wife, Prudence (Ramsey) Zinser, a son, Kurt M. Zinser, daughter-in-law, Sarah Lowe, and grandchildren, Ethan, Reid, and Leah of Knoxville, Tennessee, by a daughter, Kristin (Zinser) Cazell, and son-in-law, Chris Cazell, and grandchildren, Lauren and Jack of Hickory, North Carolina. Additionally, he is survived by sister, Ursula (Zinser) Hunter, brother-in-law, Durbin Hunter, of North Haven, Connecticut and niece, Dawn Henry, and nephew, Durbin Hunter, of Westport, Connecticut and by sister, Christel (Cox) Zavitz, and brother-in-law, Bryant Zavitz, of Dunwoody, GA.

He was a member of Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Johnson City, Tennessee, having served in many capacities at the church, including Sunday school teacher, youth advisor, member and chair of the church council, and for over 45 years as a member of the church’s choir.

Burial and graveside service will be in Hartford, CT. A memorial service will be held at Our Saviour Lutheran Church on Saturday, November 2. Friends are invited to greet the family from 1:30 PM -2:00 PM with a celebration of life service at 2:00 PM with a reception following. The Rev. James Nipper will preside.

Honorary pallbearers will be Kurt Zinser, Ethan Zinser, Chris Cazell, Gabe Cazell, Jim Thornton, and Chuck Scheurer.

In lieu of flowers, memorial funds should be sent to Our Saviour Lutheran Church, 212 Sunset Dr., Johnson City, TN 37604 or to the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, 1552 Shoup Court, Decatur, GA 30033.


Visitation: November 2, 2019 1:30 pm - 2:00 pm

Our Savior Lutheran Church

Johnson City, Tennessee

Memorial Service: November 2, 2019 2:00 pm

Our Savior Lutheran Church

Johnson City, Tennessee

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  1. Candice Escoe says:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time. Love to you all, The Escoes

  2. Todd Story says:

    Our families prayers are with all of you. I have wonderful memories of Otto from my childhood and young adulthood.
    Love to you all,
    Todd and Kim Story

  3. Sissy Shipley says:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the Zinser family at this difficult time.
    Glen & Sissy Shipley

  4. Spruil Arts Guild says:

    Chris and famil,
    You are in our thoughts as you miss your dear brother.
    Spruill Arts Guild

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