Cover photo for Otto Gene Orsborn's Obituary
Otto Gene Orsborn Profile Photo
1932 Otto 2020

Otto Gene Orsborn

October 14, 1932 — October 29, 2020

Otto Gene Orsborn, 88, of Kearney passed away Thursday, October 29th, 2020 at St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island with his family at his side.

A graveside burial service with military honors will be held at 1pm at the Elm Creek Catholic Cemetery Saturday, November 21st with Father Jorge Canela officiating. Friends and family are welcome. Please wear masks and practice social distancing. Otto’s ashes will be buried alongside of his wife, Josephine, bringing them back together as one.

Otto Gene Orsborn was born on October 14, 1932 in Overton, Nebraska to parents John and Malta Orsborn. He grew up in Elm Creek, where he graduated high school in 1950. He joined the United States Air Force in 1952 and served as a gunner on B-26’s and B-29’s during the Korean War. After the war, he returned to the states and attended barber school in 1956. During this time, he met Josephine Journey, who became his wife on Dec. 28th, 1957.

A nomad at heart, Otto loved traveling and meeting new people. He began barbering in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, and spent time in Colorado and Arizona before settling in Elm Creek. He and Josephine adopted their first child, Scott, in Lincoln in 1965, and traveled to Australia for 6 months before having Anisa and Anne in 1967 and 1969 in Nebraska. The family of 5 moved back to Australia and lived there for almost 4 years. Otto and Jo owned Orsborn Irrigation and Holdrege Drilling upon return to the states. In 1984, Otto and Jo opened Tucker & Grog Steakhouse in Elm Creek where Otto loved to spend time talking and sharing stories with customers. In 1987, Otto and Jo moved to Cave Creek, Arizona, then took their next adventure to Brookings, Oregon. Missing their immediate family and friends, they moved back to Nebraska, choosing homes in Ravenna, Dannebrog, Grand Island, and Wood River.

Otto opened up Otto’s Barber Shop in Grand Island, where he worked until retirement. In 2001, he moved to Florida to fight and conquer colon cancer, then moved back to Nebraska in 2003 where he spent his days visiting Jo at the Wood River Nursing home. He made her laugh and smile every day until she passed in 2009.

Otto then moved to Kearney, officially retired from barbering and found his new best friend and love, JoAnn Epping. They had a wonderful relationship and frequently traveled to visit friends and family. Otto often traveled to Florida, Virginia and Omaha to visit his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He loved sharing pictures of loved ones, cracking jokes, his morning biscotti, a good steak and to talk football over a whiskey, or two. He was never short on interesting stories, loved to laugh and had an incredible memory. He was always proud of the different places he’d been and the special people he’d met along the way.

Survivors of the immediate family include his son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Christine of Omaha; two daughters and sons-in-law, Anisa and Greg Branigan of Chesapeake, Virginia, and Anne and Brad Cline of Fort Myers, Florida; one sister and brother-in-law Juanita and Kenneth Wenburg; and dearest friend JoAnn Epping and family. Additional survivors include grandchildren, Britanny Peasinger, Breanna Kruger, Ryan and Bradley Halford, Alexa Stewart, Daley Cline, Emma, Ben and Will Branigan; close longtime friend Rob Chelewski and family; and many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Otto was preceded in death by his wife, Josephine; parents, John and Malta Orsborn; sisters, Sadie Orsborn, Gloria Lind, and Alberta Ekholm; brothers, Jeptha, Kermit, Gary, Cogan, and William Orsborn; and grandson Brandon Orsborn.

Otto was a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the VFW or the American Legion would be appreciated and can be sent to Apfel Funeral Home, 1123 W. 2nd Street, Grand Island, NE 68801.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Otto Gene Orsborn, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

Elm Creek Catholic Cemetery

, Elm Creek, NE 68836

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 5

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree