CARBONDALE — John Robert “Bob” Odaniell passed away peacefully Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, in Manor Court, in Carbondale.
Bob was born Oct. 19, 1925, in Johnston City, the son of Clyde Webster and Mary Vick Odaniell.
He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Marilyn Brewster Odaniell; daughter, Cora (Dean) Sedlacek; son, Thomas (Diane) Odaniell; daughter-in-law, Gail Odaniell; grandchildren, Grant Sedlacek, Andrew Odaniell, Megan Odaniell, Kyle Odaniell, Sean Odaniell and Joseph Preston; niece, Sharon (John) Bartholomay and their daughters, Jean and Jennifer.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Helen Jean Anderson; sons, David Odaniell, Timothy Odaniell, Jeffrey Odaniell and Stephen Odaniell.
Bob’s early years were spent in Johnston City. His family moved to Chicago, where he graduated from high school in 1943 and joined the U.S. Army. Serving his country in World War II, Bob was assigned to the Infantry, and then went on to Europe with the 10th Armored Division, 3rd Army, under General George Patton, during the Metz Offensive and the Allied invasion of Western Germany. He was transferred to the 760th Engineer Company and transported by ship to the Philippines, through the Panama Canal. He served with the 6th Army in the Pacific, under General Douglas MacArthur, until his discharge in April 1946.
Back in the States, Bob returned to Southern Illinois and enrolled at SIU. He was very involved in campus life as a student organizer and leader. He joined Nu Epsilon Alpha, now Sigma Pi Fraternity and later served as Grand Sage for Sigma Pi National from 1964-66. While a student at SIU, he also met his future wife, Marilyn, a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.
Graduating from SIU in 1951 with a bachelor’s of science degree in education, Bob was employed with the Alumni Office on campus. He married the love of his life, Marilyn, on Sept. 8, 1951. One year later, President Delyte Morris hired him for the new position of SIU Alumni Director. Bob jumped into the job with great optimism and energy. He became active in the American Alumni Council, working closely with fellow alumni professionals across the country. He traveled extensively to meet as many SIU alumni members as he could every year. SIU was growing rapidly and his mission was to provide the best service and leadership for every graduate and former student. His goals included starting active alumni groups in cities around the world, annual membership drives, Lifetime membership benefits, Homecoming weekend, Alumni Family Camp at Little Grassy Lake, and the Great Teacher Award. He promoted and participated in many alumni trips and activities around the world, including the 1964 New York World’s Fair and the 1967 trip to the NIT Championship. Bob proudly served SIU and its alumni during the years of enormous growth from a teacher’s college with 3500 students to a major research university with 20,000 plus by his retirement in 1986, always with Marilyn at his side.
To celebrate Bob’s 90th birthday and to honor both Bob and Marilyn for more than 60 years of service to SIU, their children surprised them with a memorial bench and plaque on the SIU campus. The bench is located between the statue of President Morris, the Paul and Virginia Statue, and the site of Old Main.
Outside of work, Bob enjoyed gardening, fishing, playing golf, mornings with his coffee group, Saturdays with his woodworking buddies, Orlen and Richard, at the Farmer’s Market and always sharing a story.
Bob also enjoyed many years of active service through local civic and charitable organizations. He was a loyal member of the Carbondale Lion’s Club for 67 years, Elks Club 1243 for 59 years, and never missed the Memorial Day, Flag Day, or Veteran’s Day ceremonies with VFW Post 2605.
Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 2, with full military rites starting at 9:45 a.m. All are welcome to come to Walker Funeral Home in Carbondale.
Donations may be made to the SIU Alumni Association or SIU Touch of Nature Environmental Center through the SIU Foundation.