Otho Orlanda Purcell, Jr. was the first-born of the late Otho G. and Rozenia Baskerville Purcell. He was born on October 8, 1945 at St. Phillips Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. On June 7, 2019 at 4:30 p.m., with his sister at his bedside at McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, he made a peaceful transition from his earthly home to enter his eternal resting place.
At an early age, Otho attended Gethsemane Baptist Church, a church founded by his maternal great-grandfather, Jack Hamilton, a former slave. He was later baptized and participated in many of the youth activities of the church. At the age of 16, Otho sought the approval of his parents to join Trinity Episcopal Church where he was baptized.
He attended East End High School in South Hill, Virginia where he was an active and engaged student. He was captain of the Varsity Football Team. He participated in the high school choir and band and served as the student conductor of both.
After graduating from high school in 1964, Otho entered Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. In July 1967, his studies were interrupted as he responded to the call from the United States Army to serve his country. He completed Basic Training at Fort Bennings, Georgia and served two tours of duty in Viet Nam where he specialized in Military Intelligence. Given the leadership skills he displayed, Otho was selected to participate in the Officers’ Training School at Fort Monmouth Army Base in Monmouth, New Jersey. On March 18, 1970, he received an Honorable Discharge from the United States Army. He continued to serve his country through the United States Army Reserves, receiving a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant on August 2, 1974 at the Naval Air Station Oceana Theatre in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Otho later returned to Virginia Union University to complete his degree, earning a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology with an Emphasis in Urban Studies in 1981.
Otho’s professional career included serving as the first African-American police officer for the Henrico County Police Department. He eventually worked for the Planning Department of Henrico County and for the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. His work career also included establishing his own business Purcell’s General Contractor Services. Otho retired as the Chief Planner for Planning and Community Development for the City of Petersburg.
Otho served in the Vestry at Trinity Episcopal Church, as well as served as Senior Warden. He was a member of the Nu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha and served as its president from 2005 to 2007.
Otho was loved by many and leaves to celebrate his life and his works—Son: Otho O. Purcell, III; Daughters: Stacey J. Meyers (B. Maurice), Stephanie R. Purcell and Jennifer D. Purcell; Grandchildren: Shawn X. Purcell, Briana Meyers, Chad Meyers and Ga’Mal Meyers; Great Grandson: Kyrie Meyers. and his sister Carlinda Purcell. Otho also leaves a very special friend/fiancée, Martha E. Smith, who joins in the celebration and memories of his life and their time together.