Farming Agriculture 05

William H Odegaard

February 18, 1932 ~ July 11, 2022 (age 90)

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William H. (Bill) Odegaard, born in Lakeview, Oregon on February 18th, 1932 to Alvin P. Odegaard and Mary Maroney Odegaard (later Smead) who themselves were born in Minnesota and Iowa respectively, passed away on July 11th, 2022.

Born the second of six farm children during the early years of the Great Depression, young Bill experienced the effort and determination required of his parents in keeping the family fed, sheltered, and clothed.  He also witnessed them provide work and meals to a continual stream of disillusioned, displaced, and dispossessed people who were passing through and just trying to get by. These observations helped forge Bill’s lifelong ethic of hard work and debt-free living, which in time he coupled with a great and heartfelt appreciation for family.

Bill grew up in a rural agricultural lifestyle, growing grain, raising farm animals, milking cows, and so on. In that setting began his lifelong love of horses and of horsemanship. Graduating from Lakeview High School in 1950, and still helping on the homeplace, Bill ventured into the world of work for hire where he was honored to break horses on the Jones Ranch. Eventually, however, “Uncle Sam” came calling and Bill joined the US Army.

In August 1958, while stationed in Sacramento, Bill married Lakeview-born Bridie T. Guiney.  After the conclusion of his military obligation, and the birth of their first son, William J. Odegaard (Jan.1960), the couple returned to Oregon and Bill resumed the ranch life, working on the ZX Ranch. They also lived and worked on the Lane Ranch through the birth of their second son, Kenneth A. Odegaard (Nov.1962).

The family of four, intrigued by Bill’s siblings who had “flown south,” tested a short period of life in southern California, but were soon drawn back to the homeplace in Lakeview where Bill had grown up and where a rural lifestyle awaited him and Bridie. Both he and she worked a variety of jobs over the coming decades to care for their family. Bill often found himself working in the capacity of foreman or boss in road construction and, for many years, in logging. Simultaneously, he pursued the goal of ranch life which involved relatively small-scale Black Angus beef-cattle production. By 1981, however, Bill and Bridie divorced.

In 1985, Bill remarried, joining life together with Kay S.Leiseth (Christensen). Over time, the two built a relationship that involved hard work, travel, and learning to successfully grandparent. And, of course, there was their rural ranch lifestyle, and Bill’s love of horses. They made their home together until spring of this year when significant health and memory issues resulted in separate caregiving environments. Now survived by his loving wife Kay, William H. “Bill” Odegaard was 90 years old.

Other survivors include Bill’s eldest son (aka.) Bill, and daughter-in-law  Gretchen Odegaard. Additionally, are Bill’s son Ken, and daughter-in-law, Audrae Odegaard. Step-daughters include Teryel Vaughn and Devonne Oldfield (husband Greg).

Grandchildren from both of Bill’s marriages are as follows:

Jens Odegaard (wife Rosalie, children Nollie and Brimms), Eli Odegaard (wife Allison), Nathaniel Odegaard, Coren Odegaard; Daniel Odegaard (wife Alexandra) and Anne Odegaard;

Heath Howard (wife Amber); Sean Howard; Shelia King (husband Geoff); Deven Howard; Jared McDougal (Sarah), Stephan McDougal (wife Jennifer); Justin Oldfield (Alexandra), and Drew Oldfield (wife Katie).

Bill was preceded in death by a stepdaughter Lisa Howard.

At Bill’s request, no service will be held.


Tribute from Grandson Jens Odegaard:

Grandpa Bill always smelled like leather and juniper. He was as tough as both.  A cowboy. A logger. A craftsman who built his own home and furnished it with tables and lamps and mirror frames made from the twisted and knotted junipers and the straight and true pines of high desert Oregon.

He was a visionary, passing something along to those who came after. He removed the scrub wood from the hillside behind his house and planted and nurtured a beautiful stand of Ponderosa Pine that reaches skyward and drips a blanket of needles to tuck the ground in.

He taught me to get back on the horse that bucks you off. Not a metaphor. Ahab, his Arabian gelding was as headstrong and ornery as the captain from Moby Dick and dumped me down an embankment the first time I really tried to ride.

He taught me how to dig a fencepost, look for arrowheads, shoot a rifle, and ride a steer in the rodeo.

Turns out, the cowboy life was never really for me, but the lessons remain and so does the desire to pursue what you find worth pursuing that he passed down.

I'll remember him for his sweat-stained felt hat, and his Levi's always cinched up on his skinny legs, and his cracked face from the sun, and smiling, and a good joke, and a tall tale.

I'll remember him for the scent of juniper and the beauty of a Ponderosa Pine.  In memory of William Hilary Odegaard. February 1932 - July 2022.

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