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Kenneth Weldon Odle, “Granddaddy,” a man of honor, passed away on May 4, 2019. For over 90 years his family, friends, and coworkers considered themselves blessed for having been a part of his wonderful life.
He was born on August 9, 1928 in McKinney, Texas to Ola and John Odle. He spent his youthful days playing baseball, hunting and fishing. He worked many jobs as a youth – grocery store clerk, bread deliverer, and more.
During World War II, Kenneth, or “Peewee” as he was nicknamed, did his part to support the war effort. He was commissioned by the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics to build scale model aircraft that were used in pilot training. But perhaps his most noble service during the war was spent in an elite, covert unit called “Copes Commandos.” These highly trained and well-disciplined stone cold killers proudly marched around the city square of McKinney, broomsticks slung over their shoulders – they were 12 years old. But Granddaddy always said with enormous pride “The enemy never attacked McKinney because of Copes Commandos!”
Graduating from high school in 1946, he heard about a good-looking girl working in the Smith Drug Store on the McKinney Square. He strolled in and there met the love of his life – Maggie Ruth Penland. They married in February of 1948, and for 66 years – until Maggie’s passing – their love and dedication to each other set the standard.
Not long after marriage Granddaddy began working as a Claims Adjuster for the Texas & Pacific Railway. A few years later he was offered the role as Business Manager for Christian Schools in Pleasant Grove, and for more than 15-years he and other hard-working and dedicated men and women laid a solid foundation for the school which enabled it to become what it is today – Dallas Christian School. Granddaddy forever bragged on fellow coworkers – Doris Alexander; Don Cobler; Hugh Campbell; Martha Underwood; Delbert Matthews; Alan Branyon. These men and women gave their sweat and heart, never taking credit or anything in return but always giving glory and honor to God and God alone. Granddaddy always said one of his greatest achievements at Christian Schools was to have always met payroll. There were many lean years when there was no money in the bank, but he always found a way.
After his tenure at Dallas Christian School, Granddaddy went back to the claims adjusting business with various freight companies before landing quote “the best job in my life working for the best boss ever.” The job was Parker Claims and the boss was David Peeler. Granddaddy had an honorable and very moral work ethic. Talk of his honesty and integrity got around, and people would strike agreements with Granddaddy on a handshake alone. He was a man of his word and kept his word to the letter.
Through the years it wasn’t work alone that defined Granddaddy. He taught bible class at Pleasant Grove Church of Christ for many years, and even served as an Elder. Every Saturday night, rain or shine, sleet or snow, he cooked hamburgers for family and friends. It was a tradition that began around 1967 and lasted more than 40 years. Sometimes he cooked two-dozen burgers, other times he cooked for just him and Maggie, but over time the family estimates he cooked more than 22,000 burgers!
He wasn’t talented in everything, and could be clumsy. It seemed Granddaddy couldn’t even change a light bulb without injuring himself. His sons talked about how Granddaddy could be fishing in the middle of a bottomless ocean abyss and still find a log to get his line hung on. He would cast his favorite lure, the Big O’, and it would sail far and with great speed and would almost always get completely wrapped around a tree limb. No matter how far from brush or tree limbs, Granddaddy would find it all and get his line hung every time. Every time.
Upon retirement from Parker, Granddaddy would spend quiet days and nights with Maggie at his side. Unfortunately this didn’t last long, as dementia took a toll on her and she spent the last 4 years of her life in Christian Care Center. Without fail or deviation Granddaddy would visit her every day, morning, noon and night. He was often the first person she would see in the morning, and ALWAYS the last person she would see at night. He would tuck her in tightly, pray with her, sing to her, and kiss her goodnight. He was never the same when she passed away. In ways large and small, when she died he did too.
He never raised his voice. He never cursed. He never, ever, used inappropriate or hateful language against other races of people. His life reflected what Christ taught – that we are all created in the image of God, and as such we are to love our neighbor as our self. And who is our neighbor? Granddaddy taught that everyone is our neighbor, but if anyone needed an example Granddaddy said look no further than William and Velma Pruitt. He truly and dearly loved and respected the Pruitt family.
He could be dogmatic and conservative in right and wrong. He could be liberally minded on sociological issues debated in the media today. But through and through Granddaddy loved, cared and provided for his wife, his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and countless other family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers.
Granddaddy is survived by son Kenneth Jr. and wife Kathy; daughter Cathy and husband Jim; son Michael and wife Karen; 10 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his wife, Maggie Ruth Odle; brothers J O Odle and Morris Ray Odle, and sister Edith Gotcher. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The family gives a special note of thanks to Cindy Richmond who was a very dear, loyal and loving friend to Granddaddy; to Stephanie Paul, Kimberly Morgan, Bethany Norris, Yovonda Qualls and all other Directors, nurses, aides and employees at Christian Care who lovingly and gently took care of Granddaddy in his last days. The family sends its abiding love and appreciation for going above and beyond to care for Granddaddy.
Services will take place on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at Laurel Oaks Funeral Home with a visitation starting at 1:00 P.M. and the service at 2:00. Michael Windham will officiate. Interment will follow at Laurel Oaks Memorial Park in the Garden of Memories.