Donor Profile: Don and Barbara Ottosen

Barbara and Donald Ottosen are enthusiastic supporters of Arizona PBS. They believe that education is a lifelong process and PBS provides diverse programs that span a lifetime and appeal to all ages.

The Ottosens value the wide variety of programming on Arizona PBS: From music and ballet to British dramas to nature and history shows, they enjoy nurturing a wide variety of interests. Both Barbara and Donald have enjoyed all of Ken Burns’ productions, especially the recent “Country Music” series. They are also particularly fond of “Finding Your Roots” and enjoy seeing the guests explore their family history.

Arizona PBS has been a large part of both Barbara and Donald’s Arizona connections. Donald is a second generation Phoenician and Barbara is a third generation Arizonan who was raised in the small, rural town of St. Johns. Their children were all raised in Arizona and grew up watching shows like “Sesame Street,” “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and “The Electric Company.” When their grandchildren came along, they too grew up watching their parents’ favorites, with the addition of “Arthur,” “Barney” and “Teletubbies.” Barbara and Donald remember many happy mornings giggling with grandbabies and singing along with their favorite characters.

Because Arizona PBS has added so much to their lives over the years, the Ottosens have been generous supporters since 1996. Most recently, Barbara and Donald chose to support their love of the arts by providing funding for the new Arizona PBS series “Art in the 48.” The program features Arizona artists and art organizations of all kinds, showcasing the incredible talent in the Arizona community.

This project appealed to the Ottosens due to their lifelong appreciation for the arts. Growing up, Barbara was involved in her small community chorus, played piano and flute, and loved singing with her friends. When her children were little, she enjoyed playing some of their favorite songs on the piano.

To the Ottosens, art is more than just a form of expression. Once, while visiting her grandmother in a care facility, Barbara heard beautiful piano music coming from the lobby. She was surprised to recognize the pianist as her high school English teacher, who at that point had advanced Alzheimer’s. In spite of this, she was still able to play music from memory without a struggle. Barbara strongly believes that music should play a key role in the care and treatment of Alzheimer’s patients.

Her experience is mirrored in an “Art in the 48” segment highlighting a groundbreaking program between Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and the Musical Instrument Museum — showing that art can transcend language and serve as a type of therapy. Watch the segment at azpbs.org/art48-alzheimers.

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