Otto John Beyer, 91, singer, business owner

February 28, 2004

Otto John Beyer, a bass-baritone who performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and owner of a tool-and-die-making business, died Feb. 20 of complications from a stroke at Crescent Cities Center in Riverdale. He was 91.

He was born in Woonsocket, R.I., and moved to Pittsburgh as an infant. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering from what is now Carnegie Mellon University in the early 1930s, family members said.

After graduation, he enlisted in the Army, declining to attend officer training school because he "wanted to be one of the men," said his wife, the former Barbara Main. He fought in the South Pacific in 1942 and later was assigned to duty in the United States, where he was a guard at a camp for German prisoners of war because he spoke fluent German.

After his discharge in 1946, he spent several years in New York, where he studied music and performed several times with the New York City Opera. He worked at an engineering company at night and played the zither in a cafe to make extra money.

He moved to Baltimore in the early 1950s and opened a tool-and-die-making business, Beyer Precision Products. He continued singing, performing the lead role of Colline in La Boheme with the Baltimore City Opera several times in the 1950s. He met his wife in 1960 at a folk dance in Washington.

After selling his business in 1996, Mr. Beyer sang at local churches and played his zither with the Baltimore Music Club and Philadelphia Zither Ensemble.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Fort Lincoln Cemetery, 3401 Bladensburg Road in Brentwood.

In addition to his wife of 43 years, he is survived by two sons, Daniel Beyer of Burtonsville and John Beyer of Northwest Baltimore; and one grandchild.

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