Obituary: William Harvey O’Dell

William Harvey O’Dell of Amarillo, retired Baptist pastor and chaplain, died June 5. He was 90.

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William Harvey O’Dell of Amarillo, retired Baptist pastor and chaplain, died June 5. He was 90. He was born to Jesse Dameron and Daisy Murphy O’Dell on Sept. 25, 1930, in Santa Rita, N.M. As a child, he attended the Baptist church at Maxdale, near Ding Dong, in Bell County, where his father was a deacon, and his mother was the church pianist. At that church, he committed his life to Christ at age 9 and was baptized in the Lampassas River. He graduated from Killeen High School at age 15 and enrolled at Texas A&M University. He joined the U.S. Air Force at age 17 and served as a C-47 airborne radioman in Itazuki and Yakota, Japan, and the Kempo Air Base in Korea, delivering supplies and troops. He flew with the 5th Air Force, P-61 night fighter squadron and was in Guam with the 93rd Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Wing, 20th Air Force, flying B-29s. When the Korean War broke out, he served with the 4th Troop Carrier Squadron, flying C-54s on the Alaska Route to Tokyo, Hawaii, Wake, and Aschia and Tachakawa in Japan. In January 1952, he was assigned to Roswell, N.M., and was honorably discharged the same year. He received the Korean Service, Air, and Good Conduct Medals. Many years later, he also received a letter of appreciation and a Korean War Service Medal from Kim Dae-Jong, president of the Republic of Korea, in gratitude for his service. He surrendered to God’s call to the gospel ministry and became pastor of Mountain View Baptist Church in Howe, Okla. On Dec. 20, 1952, he married Helen Grace Cagle. The following May, he enrolled at Baylor University, graduating the next year. He went on to earn a Master of Theology degree from Fuller Theological Seminary and did post-graduate work at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. He was pastor of mission churches in California while he attended seminary. He then served as pastor of the Berea Baptist Church in Big Spring, where he also worked with the Veterans’ Administration Hospital. He then became chaplain of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Amarillo, where he served more than 20 years, retiring in 1992. He was interim pastor of several churches after his retirement. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Helen; daughter Karen O’Dell Bullock and her husband John of Granbury; daughter Kandi O’Dell Pruitt of Iowa Park; daughter Kathy O’Dell of Amarillo; and son William H. O’Dell Jr. and his wife Amy of Stephenville; 12 grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and his brother Robert O’Dell and wife Shirley of Poteau, Okla.


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