Ohio Statehouse. Image courtesy of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board.

Herald Staff Report

COLUMBUS – U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty announced the death of her husband, Otto Beatty Jr., 81, on Friday on Facebook and Twitter, saying “he was a devoted father, grandfather, amazing husband and confidante, friend to many, and dedicated leader in the community.” No cause of death was given.

Beatty, a former state lawmaker and attorney, was known in the State of Ohio and especially in the greater Columbus area as a fighter for racial equity, minority-owned businesses and the disadvantaged. As an attorney, he continued his fight for equity for Ohio’s minority community. 

Photo Caption: Otto Beatty Jr. with his wife, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty.

Beatty was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1940. Growing up in Columbus, he attended local schools and graduated from University High School. He earned a BA and an MA in business administration from Howard University and a JD from The Ohio State University College of Law. Beatty established a law practice and soon distinguished himself as an attorney. He served as president of the Franklin County Trial Lawyers Association and attorney for Black Elected Democrats of Ohio, which in 1995 became the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. He successfully defended the first two discrimination cases filed in Ohio.

Voters elected Beatty state representative in 1979, and he served eighteen years in the legislature. He was a powerful advocate for minority business and the disadvantaged. He was a member of many committees, including Finance and Appropriations; Health, Retirement, and Aging; Rules; and Reference; as well as the Agriculture and Development Subcommittee. He also served as special counsel to the State Attorney General.

His leadership in the Ohio House was part of a long and effective career responding to the issues and concerns of Ohio citizens. He is no stranger to affirmative action and has often defended the disadvantaged. He has been honored at the local, state, and national level for his contributions to tort reform, minority business development, and health care. Beatty supports strong family values, works to improve the quality of life for children and families, and is a strong consumer advocate.

He is a former chairman of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health and a former president of the Franklin County Trial Lawyers Association. He has been a member of the National Association of Defense Lawyers, the American and Columbus Bar Associations, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the American and Ohio Trial Lawyers Associations, and the Columbus Area Black Elected Officials.

Beatty is survived by his wife, Joyce Beatty, his two children by a former wife, a daughter, Laurel Beatty Blunt, a judge on the 10th District Court of Appeals, and son Otto III. 

The Ohio Statehouse website and several news outlets including the Associate Press contributed to this report. 

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