Gerald L. (Jerry) Odash, of Ramsey, departed this life on October 30, 2019 after a courageous battle with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Born on February 19, 1944 in Rice Lake WI the son of Ignatz (Natz) Odash and Gertrude (Kazmierkoski) Odash. Preceded in death by his parents; first wife, Joan; son, Glen; brother-in-law, Rod Reek and sister-in-law, Karen Boyer. Survived by his loving wife and best friend, Pamela and children; daughters, Diane and Karen Odash, Becky (Shaun) Hawley, Megan (Tim) Bollig; son, Matt (Kristin) Hoppe; grandsons Brenden Odash, Eddie Hawley, Hank and Hunter Bollig; sisters, Joan (Bud) Ebner of Cameron WI and Marge Reek of Madison WI. Also survived by mother-in-law, Kay Elphick; sister-in-law, Carol Entsminger; brother-in-law, Mark (Angie) Elphick and Jerry’s second wife, Terri Schalesky. Many loving nephews and nieces as well as loyal and trusted friends.
A veteran of the United States Army Security Agency Jerry was a Vietnam Era veteran but was attached to the 226th USASA Operations Company on Kanghwa-do. Kanghwa is an island off the Western coast of Korea. The 226th was part of the 508th USASA Group. The 226th was responsible for signal intelligence gathering, analysis and cryptography in support of the 8th Army’s two divisions on mainland Korea the 2nd Division and the 1st Cavalry Division prior to the 1st Cavalry was reassigned to Vietnam. He obtained the rank of Spec 5 / E-5 before being honorably discharged in 1967. As a child he saluted the flag before the words “under God” were added in 1954. As a young man he took an oath to that same flag when he joined the armed forces in 1965. Now he will be buried with that flag upholding the rights of some to even burn it.
Jerry made many friends throughout his years and still kept in touch with classmates going back as far as kindergarten. He was always available to his friends to help with projects and was an accomplished wood worker. Jerry enjoyed working with exotic wood from all corners of the globe winning a blue ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair in 1998. In later years he switched from wood working to stained glass after his lung issues prevented him from working with sawdust. He gave many of his items away as gifts to cherished friends and relatives.
Jerry spent over 40 years in various capacities in the Outdoor Power Equipment Industry serving the commercial turf industry. During the 1980’s Jerry was published over 11 times in various professional trade publications. He was a sought after public speaker at various trade shows throughout the United States passing on his selling skills and common sense approach to successful selling. In the early 1990’s Jerry was elected to the Board of Directors of the North Central Turf Grass Association (NCTGA) eventually serving as Vice-President and President. He was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the NCTGA in 1996 for his years of service to the association.
After his son Glen’s suicide death in 1995 Jerry graciously donated his time in helping other grieving souls who had lost loved ones to suicide, he worked tirelessly as a facilitator for various grief and loss support groups throughout the northern suburbs and did all he could to educate and help others to understand the consequences of untreated depression and help survivors through their grief process.
Jerry had a unique rare personality, an avid joker and story teller he could captivate people with an endless array of first hand stories. If Jerry met someone and had even a few minutes of conversation with them it seems he remembered their name forever. He also possessed a quick wit coupled with a rapier sharp tongue that could cut to ribbons if the mood suited him. A deep thinker who could think on his feet, he was at home and comfortable in any situation. In spite of severe setbacks and tragedies during his life he never lost his sense of humor and found some way to lighten any serious mood by lending a well tuned ear to anyone who needed it. When you needed a true friend Jerry was the go-to person you wanted.
Diagnosed in 2012 with IPF, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, he tried to learn as much about the disease and treatments that he could. He knew that it was a disease in which he had little to no control over but fought gallantly to not let the disease define him or limit his daily life. In spite of the initial diagnosis giving him only 2-3 years to survive, Jerry managed to joke that when the Dr. found out he didn’t have enough money to pay the bill they gave him an additional 3+ years. Jerry and Pam are grateful to the Staff at the U of M Pulmonary Dept in Minneapolis and Maple Grove, especially Dr. David Perlman, Dr. Peter Bitterman, Coordinators Beth Mullan and Katy Ferguson, for their never-ending support to give Jerry the best quality of life as long as they did. They also are thankful to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Support Group of Minnesota where Jerry never felt alone with this rare disease called IPF. Our family was blessed to have the Fairview Hospice - Princeton Team, who gave incredible support and care to Jerry on the last leg of his journey. Jerry was able to see Becky, Megan and Matthew all marry, and as the wedding officiant performed Megan and Tim’s marriage ceremony. He was a wonderful, loving, compassionate and fun husband to Pam. She will treasure her years with Jerry and their times road tripping, going to Art Fairs and the little things like just holding hands driving or curling up on the couch at home. He was a wonderful role model and was more like a father than stepfather to the kids. He adored Eddie, Hank and Hunter and treasured the times they spent together. Jerry was loved by so many and will be so dearly missed. But we know he is in heaven breathing deeply, filling his lungs with oxygen and that wonderful smile on his face.
Visitation at KOZLAK-RADULOVICH BLAINE CHAPEL (107th Ave. NE & Hwy. 65) Tuesday, November 5, 2019 from 5-8 PM. Mass of Christian Burial at ST. STEPHEN’S CATHOLIC CHURCH (525 Jackson St., Anoka) Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at 11 AM with visitation one hour prior. Interment Fort Snelling National Cemetery.