Cover photo for Charles Theodore Odell's Obituary
Charles Theodore Odell Profile Photo
1941 Charles 2023

Charles Theodore Odell

June 23, 1941 — June 30, 2023

Camp Crook

Funeral Service for Charles Odell, 82, of Camp Crook, SD, will be 11:00 a.m., Monday, July 10, 2023 at Camp Crook Methodist Church, Camp Crook, SD. Visitation will take place one hour prior to the service.

Military Rites and burial will follow at the Capitol Cemetery following the funeral service.

Charles passed away Friday, June 30, 2023.

Charles Theodore Odell was grandson of Charles Odell and Theodore Overn. He was born on June 23, 1941, in Carter County, Montana. He was the oldest son of Melvin and Olive Overn Odell. His siblings were Carol Smith, Kathy Loehding, Gene, Steven and Michael Odell. His family lived on various ranches in eastern Carter County and the surrounding area. He learned ranching at an early age, and attended country schools. He graduated from Carter County High School in 1959. After graduation he entered the U.S. Marine Corp, and served for four years. He served over-seas in Okinawa, and various bases in the U.S. He attended college at Northern State University in Aberdeen, and was a member of the college rodeo team as a bull rider, especially enjoying trips to the Oklahoma Panhandle rodeo. His degree was in history education, and later he earned a business degree from Black Hills State University. He had worked for many other ranchers before becoming the clerk for the U.S. Forest Service. He worked out of the Sioux Ranger District of Custer National Forest stationed in Camp Crook, South Dakota. Later he worked as a Range Technician and Firefighter for the same district, where he worked for 36 years before retiring. He married Karen Evans in November 1972, at the Little Missouri Lutheran Church. They lived on the Odell Ranch on the Montana/South Dakota state line. Karen was a teacher, and had taught at city, town and country schools.

Their children and grandchildren are Mollie, JD and Kyia Smith of North Oaks, MN; Micki, Jesse, Rowan and Murphy Hinds of Salmon Beach, WA; Cody, Kylie, Kellan, Kenna and Carson Odell of Mitchell, SD; and Jeff Odell and Amanda Schaefer of Iowa City, IA.

Charlie and his horse, Tiger, worked well together. Charlie and Karen ranched for fifty years. After retiring from his years at the Forest Service, Charlie became a Montana brand inspector, and helped Karen write the Capitol News for local newspapers.

There were many exciting adventures in his life. As a firefighter, he and his brother Mike went into the Long Pines from opposite directions to rescue a fire crew who had been burned over, and had survived with fire blankets. When the Camp Crook ambulance was called, Karen was the only one available to answer the ambulance phone line. Alone, she drove the ambulance to fire headquarters at the school. There she was met by the Forest Service fire coordinator, and told there had been a fire crew burned over. The fear was relieved a little after she heard the voice on the radio directing her to meet him at Exie Road. It was Charlie’s voice speaking to her. When Charlie had driven into the burned over area to get to the crew, they did not wait for assistance, but jumped into the back of his pick-up, dragging and helping all others in, by the time he had come to a stop. Karen met them with the ambulance, and they loaded one of the crew to be flown to Denver. Many years later, there was a reunion of that surviving crew, and Charlie and Karen were invited to join with them at the site of their harrowing burn-over in the Long Pines.

There were interesting events, like the time when Charlie and Roy, determined to rid a Long Pines  pond of beavers by using dynamite, and ended up diving under the pick-up for cover as logs came toward them from great heights. There was the time he was returning from a fire, and he called Karen twice to ask if she could see the tops of the Long Pines. Karen said ‘yes’ and then as she drove out toward the rodeo arena, a small plane came out of the clouds, landed by the ball diamonds, merely slowed almost to a stop while Charlie jumped out, and then, instantly the plane took off again, so it did not get stuck in the mud.

During one winter, the snow became over six feet deep, and Charlie went to work and back every day on the snow mobile, while his family stayed home for six weeks. After one night of travel to a basketball game at Buffalo, to watch Mike play, the family was snowbound again for another six weeks, while Charlie got to work on the snowmobile, each day.

When Karen was away to an EMT class, Charlie made the kids stay near the barn, while he used the tractor to lift a huge log onto braces, while building the log addition on the old house. The first attempt slipped off, and Charlie learned to ease forward with the tractor while lowering the beam with the loader. Karen decided that Charlie should take the EMT class, too, which he did a few years later.

Charlie helped Karen train search dogs by getting lost, many times, to let the dogs find him. He even laid tracks for her to follow step by step, as a mantracker without the use of dogs. After Karen began writing the Capitol News, she sometimes needed a break from the routine. Charlie would substitute, call neighbors and write their news for the week. At the Forest Service, Charlie wrote the Sioux District folder that included history and geology, and Karen did the cover illustrations. Charlie and Karen chose to go to the many sports and educational events that their children participated in while in grade school, high school and college. He was proud that all their children were college graduates. He loved sports, and in recent years got to see grandchildren participate in sports and music on the internet.

When Karen began writing books, Charlie did the editing. Charlie edited history books, fiction and at least one special fiction book for each grandchild that were published on Amazon. He and Karen built the log addition to their house with logs from the Long Pines. Don Knapp slabbed three sides and the two of them lay the logs. More recently, Charlie framed an addition of another sun room and tool store room. He used log siding for the outside, and Karen did the staining and sealing. Then Karen insulated and used log siding for the inside walls, too.

Charlie’s sport was rodeo, and after 50 years, he still has saved one shredded shirt to remind himself of his more interesting rides. Karen’s sports experiences brought him interest in other sports, and he even played outfield on her softball team one year. He enjoyed every sport that his children and grandchildren participated in, and soon understood the techniques of softball, volleyball, baseball, basketball, football, track, javelin and even wrestling. With technology they both got to see their music programs and competitions on YouTube. This year, they traveled to Rapid City and got to see Kellan play baseball in person.

Charlie will be missed, but he lived his 82 years to the fullest, doing what he loved, with those he loved.

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Charles Odell Memorial Cards.pdf


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