Bottenfield grew up in New Albany, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana University, where he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, in 1916.
Bottenfield served in the Rainbow Division during World War I. He served with Battery F of the 150th Field Artillery in France. He took charge of the battery on July 30, 1918 after attending the artillery training school at Saumur and being promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.
After the war, Bottenfield briefly taught school in Milltown, Indiana, where he met his wife, the former Mildred Funk, whom he married in 1920. In the meantime, he accepted a job as a mechanic's helper at the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation's Gary sheet and tin mills. He was promoted through several machinist and foreman positions to superintendent of the hot strip mill and manager in charge of hot and cold rolling, and eventually to superintendent of the cold reduction department.
Bottenfield joined the County Board of Education in the 1950s. He served as president of the board in 1956 and remained a member of the board until the mid 1970s.
Bottenfield was widowed in 1979. He died in Tuscaloosa in 1981. He was survived by three children, ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He was buried at Kraft-Graceland Memorial Park in New Albany, Indiana.
- Palmerton, Paul L., ed. (1919) Under the Rainbow: A History of Its Service in the War Against Germany. Indianapolis, Indiana: Battery F, 150th F.A./Hollenbeck Press
- "Indiana Steel Executive Now With Alabama Firm" (September 1937) The Palm of Alpha Tau Omega, Vol. 57, No. 4, p. 300
- "Carl R. Bottenfield" obituary (March 28, 1981) Louisville Courier-Journal
- Carl Bottenfield at Findagrave.com