Otto Gustavo Wadsted 1933-2010


By Luigi Logrippo with many collaborators


Otto Gustavo Wadsted was born Danish in Washington, D.C. on December 6, 1933. His father and grandfather were noted Danish diplomats also called Otto Wadsted. Traces of their activities can be found on the Web. Here is a photo of his father (playing the piano) and his grandfather and grandmother (far right). His grandparents are also here.

Otto’s mother was Concepción Carafí, also known as Beba. She was from a family of long Uruguayan-Argentinian lineage. Here is a photo of her and his son Otto as a six month old baby, at the Danish Embassy in Washington. Aquí está una breve historia de la familia Carafí.

In his early life, Otto lived in several countries: the USA, then after WW II in Italy, and then in Brazil. In Brazil he obtained a Civil Engineering degree in 1956 and worked as a civil engineer in Rio de Janeiro during the heady days of President Kubitschek. Brazil and Rio always occupied a very special place in his heart. Here is a photo of Otto and his mother taken in 1957.

He completed a Master’s degree in Engineering and Administration at MIT in 1966. He did further graduate work at Columbia, and, I believe he told me, also at Harvard. Here are some photos of him in the mid-sixties Photo, Photo, Photo. He worked for some time at the World Bank, and this activity took him to several countries that he got to know well, especially Venezuela and Bolivia.

In 1971 he got a position at the University of Ottawa (Canada), where he taught in the Department of Economics until 1996. He was very proud of the many students he introduced to economics. He was very interested in the problems of developing countries, industrialization, employment, and poverty. He was a systematic and enthusiastic teacher and researcher. Some of his publications can be found by browsing the Web. Here is a Photo of him taken in 1991.

He never married, and lived with his mother in her later years. He lived in the Sandy Hill area of Ottawa and frequented late evening Sunday Masses in St. Patrick’s Basilica downtown. He liked to remember an episode where he dived in the frigid Rideau Canal to save a suicidal woman, episode that was reported in the local media (without mentioning his name).

Otto died alone in his apartment on or about May 27, 2010 and was buried on July 21, 2010 at Capital Memorial Gardens, 3700 Prince of Wales Drive, Ottawa. His grave is located on Lot 43, Space C3 – Singles. Here is a photo of his headstone.


Personal note: having been acquainted with Otto for over 30 years I did not want to let his death go unnoticed. He was a solitary and private man, but he deeply valued personal relationships, and had much human insight. One of his preferred topics was to share his knowledge of South American history, culture and economy. He had a vast culture and could discuss many topics with competence and fervent interest, in at least six languages. In his later years he talked a lot about the relationship between the dead and the living and discussed how various cultures related with the dead. When his barber died, and he felt that his family was not grieving, in reaction he let his hair grow for a long time and, uncharacteristic of him, he wore a pony-tail.


Some people who knew Otto will see this note, and may wish to add their recollections to mine. Please do not hesitate to write me at: -  en Français, Español, Portugués, English, Danska ….


[Afterthought: I was surprised by the many people who saw this memorial and reacted to it, since I posted it in early 2011. These are all people who independently searched Otto’s name on the web and found this page. Some wrote the messages you will see below and some gave me other information, such as photos].




Received on March 29, 2011 from his former University of Ottawa colleague Dr. Emmanuel Apel, now in Paris: Otto was a great and cultured man, as well as an excellent professor, much appreciated by his students. He was always very generous with the time spent trying to help his students. I knew him well as a colleague from 1971 until the mid-1990s.  Sad to learn that he is no longer with us.


Received on April 21, 2011,  from Prof. Amer Al-Roubaie, Dean, College of Business and Finance, Ahlia University, Manama, Bahrain: I am very saddened to learn about the death of Otto Gustavo Wadsted. I was one of his students at the University of Ottawa in late 1970s. He was excellent professor and highly committed to his students. He was a man of great integrity and ethics as well as a man of knowledge and wisdom. Although he was my professor for a short period, he was in constant touch with me all these years until his death. This is indeed a reflection of his outstanding personality not only as a concerned teacher, but also as a close friend. His memories with me will remain forever. May his soul rest in peace!


Received on July 3, 2011 from Mrs. Anita van der Linden, New York City: My mother Betty Yu-Lin Ho has this picture of Otto G. Wadsted from 1964 in her apartment in New York City.  My mom is very sorry to hear that he died. She typed his thesis for him back in the 1960's when he was at Columbia University. She thought he was a very intelligent man.


Received on August 20, 2011 from Mr. Bent Ritz Petersen, Denmark: Otto Gustavo Wadsted and I go back 66 years to 1945.  Denmark was a free country again after the German occupation. Otto had been admitted in the catholic school that I attended as a protestant. It had a reputation for discipline exercised by German Jesuit priests. 

Otto was newly arrived from Rome, and on his first school day he was introduced to this class of boys of his own age. He was invited to sit next to me sharing my double desk, and his eyes were full of expectation. He did not take long to convince everybody that he possessed sound knowledge of mathematics and superior English, also fluent written and spoken Danish. He demonstrated his competence in a pleasant, leaning back style, and won everybody's admiration. 

We spent time together after school, and sometimes I would accompany him to the pension where he lived with his mother. We communicated in English, and Otto was full of fun and even mischief. Our ways separated as Otto and his mother went to Brazil, but we maintained correspondence for a couple of years.  When I saw Otto again, we were young men. He came to Copenhagen, and his father, whom I had met on a previous occasion, had made arrangements with my father for a surprise party. 

His visits were sweet and short, but within a week we would become school boys again. I remember two more visits - both of them unannounced, but then we lost contact. His death has left a void. Honour to his name. 


Received on November 29, 2011 from Mr. Byron Nutting, CFO Jazz Resources Inc.  Vancouver BC. Canada. I was a student of Prof. Wadsted at the University of Ottawa. I have many fond recollections of him. I took his course in mathematical economics. It was very important for my career to pass this course. During the final exam I did not think I would pass. I was having problems with some algebra. While he was passing by I mentioned this to him. He had a look at what I was doing and said that it looked ok. Thus encouraged I continued with my algebra and managed to pass the course. I am forever grateful for his kindness.


Received on December 8, 2011 from Prof. David J. Murrell, University of New Brunswick. I was a struggling fourth and fifth year student in economics at University of Ottawa. I was fortunate enough to take two courses from Professor  Wadsted at the time, and to work as a teaching assistant for him. He was a very thorough and careful professor -- who demanded a lot from us. At the time I had good grades, but was financially impoverished.  Through this he gave me encouragement to continue. I might add that one term paper I did for him led me to construct elementary GDP estimates  for the province of Saskatchewan -- work I later extended as research at the Conference Board of Canada. Sorry to hear of his death.


Received on Jan 24, 2012 from Stéphane Gagnon, Professeur dans le département des Sciences de l’administration, Université du Québec en Outaouais. I was blessed on many levels to befriend Prof. Wadsted, a true humanist with unconditional kindness and affection. I took his International Trade elective at University of Ottawa in fall 1990. Along with fellow classmates (some of them magna and summa cum laude), we often stayed after 10pm until midnight to listen to his numerous stories about political economy and history. He always made us feel as if we were at Oxford, sharing a cup of his famous thermos and cookies, while filling our gaps with empirical evidence to back the equations he had just presented in class.

His unique pedagogical approach continues to inspire me today, and in spite of its implicit cost I remain committed to his encyclopedic approach to social sciences. We stayed in touch after graduation and I met him every year or so (until 2005) for coffee or dinner (he gathered alumni a few times at the Yang Sheng). He always shared knowledge and insight, taking genuine interest in my journey as grad student, professional, and man (he met all of my life partners except my present one).

Prof. Wadsted was a very special man who lived a humble, discrete, but fulfilling life. He was a philosopher in the classical sense, with enlightening lessons blending theory and human experience.

As I read others’ comments on this page, I am touched that we all share the same feeling about him and his passing. His memory will live long with us, and his teachings too. God bless his soul.


Reçu  le 20 février 2012 de la part de Gilles Grenier, Professeur, Département de science économique, Université d'Ottawa. J'ai été le collègue d'Otto Wadsted au Département de science économique de l'Université d'Ottawa de 1981 à 1996; j'ai aussi été le directeur de ce département de 1985 à 1989.  Otto Wadsted  était un professeur avec des habitudes bien particulières : il vivait la nuit et dormait le jour. Les seules fois où on le voyait étaient lors des assemblées départementales, qui avaient lieu trois ou quatre fois par année. Sinon, tous les échanges avec lui se faisaient par correspondance. Une secrétaire qui a été à l'emploi du Département pendant plusieurs années m'a avoué ne l'avoir jamais vu. Les relations entre Otto Wadsted et l'Université d'Ottawa ont parfois été difficiles. Pendant longtemps, il a refusé de fournir à l'Université son adresse et son numéro de téléphone à la maison, malgré les nombreuses demandes. Pour sa défense, il disait qu'il ne voulait pas être dérangé durant la journée étant donné qu'il dormait. Une autre fois, lorsque le Département devait changer de locaux, il n'a pas accepté le nouveau bureau qui lui avait été alloué et ses effets personnels sont demeurés dans des boîtes pendant des années. Il avait plaidé en vain de garder son ancien bureau, mais l'étage au complet avait été attribué à une autre unité scolaire. Comme directeur du Département, j'ai eu à gérer diverses situations conflictuelles qui le concernaient. Cependant, lorsque j'avais l'occasion de lui parler en personne, j'étais toujours impressionné par son amabilité et sa gentillesse. Je me souviens en particulier de la fois où, suite au décès tragique d'une collègue avec qui il avait eu des relations particulièrement tumultueuses, il m'avait téléphoné pour me faire part de sa grande tristesse. Il était vraiment ému et affecté par ce décès, et comme il était très croyant, il avait fait célébrer une messe à sa mémoire. Enfin, Otto Wadsted était un excellent enseignant, comme plusieurs de ses anciens étudiants en ont témoigné.


Recebido de Francisco Ludgero Sobrinho em 12 de outubro de 2013. Quero aqui expressar os meus sentimentos sobre a triste notícia do falecimento do Dr. Otto Gustavo Wadsted. Desde o fim de 1968, comecei a trabalhar para o Dr. Otto, fazendo algumas tarefas na cidade do Rio de Janeiro; sempre me tratou muito bem, e, apesar da diferença de nível cultural e social me tratava  como de fosse um irmão dele. Passou a demonstrar grande confiança em minha pessoa, entregando-me algumas tarefas de grande responsabilidade para resolver. Era portanto o Dr. Otto um homem pacífico, muito humano e humilde, ao ponto de visitar a minha casa em uma comunidade do Rio de Janeiro, e eu que me encontrava  doente (problema nos ossos), quando chegou já veio trazendo alguns remédios para mim.

Assim era o Dr. Otto; se aproximava de qualquer pessoa pobre, e sem fazer distinção, conversava com todos.

Estando nos dias de viajar para o Canadá, quando esteve em minha casa, tirou foto de toda a minha família, e até fez promessas de enviar-me cópias das fotos, mas, deve ter acontecido algum problema, pois, não enviou.

Me contou certa vez, que, quando a trabalho na África do Sul, hospedou-se na residência  de um africano onde todos dormiam no chão. Ele com facilidade adaptou-se , a essas condições; isso nos mostra, o homem humilde que era; outra pessoa com os mesmos recursos que ele, teria proucurado um lugar onde lhe fosse oferecido mais conforto.

Enfim Dr. Otto, retornou ao Canadá, não nos vimos mais, apenas através de cartas nos comunicávamos, mesmo de longe, proucurava manter seu braço amigo estendido ao meu favor, por ocasião de final de ano, estando eu desempregado, trabalhava de vendedor ambulante, quando me surpreendeu com uma carta que dizia mais ou menos assim: "Prezado Ludgero, lembrei-me que você trabalha de ambulante,  e não tem deonde tirar o décimo terceiro salário,estou lhe mandando uma quantia equivalente ao décimo terceiro salário, para que você não só veja os outros receberem mas que também receba." Mandou-me o valor acima por ele mencionado, até mais do que eu realmente receberia se estivesse trabalhando de carteira assinada; isto é mais uma prova do homem bom e humilde que era, eu já não trabalhava mais para ele há muito tempo, não precisava ele ter preocupações quanto as minhas percebições financeira, mas teve, não por responsabilidade empregador X empregado,mas por humanidade e generosidade.

Nos resta agora, somente as saudosas lembranças do Dr. Otto Gustavo Wadsted.


Recibido de su prima Petroushka Vitale (Montevideo), el 6 de febrero 2015. El  comentario que puedo agregar acerca de Otto, es que era un hombre muy sensible y siempre considerado con el prójimo. Además de ser muy culto, y en sus buenos tiempos…muy ocurrente y divertido. Cuando yo vivía en Nueva York, era como un hermano mayor. Sus amistades y las mías siempre congeniaban, por lo tanto salíamos todos juntos. Tanto a un concierto, como al teatro a un Formal Party…y los parties que no eran muy formales también.

En una ocasión íbamos al “White Elephant Ball” en el Pierre Hotel. Black Tie y traje largo. Entramos al elevador junto con dos parejas, y de repente hubo un corto circuito y el elevador se quedó parado. Nadie venía a socorrernos, después de largo rato, Otto se sacó su elegante chaqueta negra e hizo una pequeña almohada, para que yo me sentara mientras esperábamos. Los otros dos caballeros siguieron su ejemplo. Entre el calor y la falta de aire, y que nadie nos oía, nos pusimos a deliberar, acerca de filosofía. En lo mejor de la conversación llegó el grupo de rescate. Cuando salimos del elevador había un espejo justo enfrente de nosotros…cuando nos vimos, transpirados, nosotras con el maquillaje todo corrido, las chaquetas de los caballeros todas arrugadas. Terminamos olvidando el elegante baile al cual debíamos concurrir, y nos fuimos a comer una pizza y a seguir con nuestra filosófica conversación interrumpida.


Received from Jackson Shaw, IT entrepreneur, on August 3, 2016. I started my very first full-time job at the University of Ottawa in 1984 in the Computing Center. I had the pleasure of helping many students, faculty and staff during those years including Prof. Otto Wadsted. Otto always stood out to me. He had a twinkle in his eye, mischief in his mind and always an inviting smile on his face. He’d frequently drop by my office just for a chat and a smoke of the cheroots he always seemed to have handy. I’m saddened to find out he has passed on but heartened by the fact he’ll be waiting for me, cheroot in hand, to celebrate my arrival. I only hope they allow smoking up there.


Received from Christa Phillips (Montana, USA) on September 6, 2016. In memoriam: Love remains. Thank you for having been in my life, Otto.


Received from Brenda Gayle-Anyiwe, Professor in the Faculty of Business, School of English and Liberal Studies, Seneca College, Toronto (Ontario, Canada) on May 28, 2018. As a consummate teacher, a remarkable quality of Professor Wadsted’s instruction was his attention to the development of logical argument while, at the same time, discerning the understanding of students. If gaps in comprehension became apparent, he would elucidate the reasoning of an aspect, even before questions were asked. He was committed to enabling learning.

A phrase he used, ‘out to the stars and beyond,’ resonated. It is included in this poem Scholastic Legacy, which is dedicated to his memory.


Scholastic Legacy

Out to the stars and beyond he bid us

Go as on Cartesian planes of light

In search of certainties that may be found

Beyond the bounds of our known universe

Of intellectual thought, impelled onward

By meticulous perspicacity

As mathematicians who delight in                                     

Creativity and logic; then we,

In turn, hope to advance the radiance

Of unparalleled teaching and learning

With the joy of striving for scholarship,                                          

And so create secure scholastic bonds                                                      

Between sagacity past and to come,                                 

That will enlighten minds and transform lives.                                              


Out to the stars and beyond he ventured

Forth as on ethereal beams of light                                   

In their interminable reach toward

Far nebulae that arc eternities                                                       

Of space and time, where sentience, unconstrained

By finite bonds, may seize at certitudes -                          

Verities philosophers comprehend                         

Unfettered in infinities of truths;

Then we, in turn, will embark from the dark                     

Confines of ignorance to grasp realities                            

Twinkling in distant galaxies of thought,   

Summoning the reach of reason along

Pristine paths towards illuminations          

Brilliant as celestial supernovae.    




Last updated: 2018-05-29