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Sadly one of Oklahoma's most admired and loved
archaeologists, George H. Odell, 69, died suddenly at
his home October 14, 2011, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

odell main pic 

In an article on Dr. Odell, the Tulsa World said he was not only a wonderful teacher but an excellent athlete, a Renaissance Man of the day.        

He loved music and had a superb singing voice. Yet his greatest attribute was his ability to relate to his students, family and friends.

george at work

He is survived by his wife, Frieda, also an archeologist, and brothers Allan Evans Odell of Redding, Calif. and Clinton (Carol) Odell of Edina, Minnesota. George and his wife were long time members and frequent contributors to the Oklahoma Anthropological Society. He died shortly before he was to speak at the 2011 OAS Fall Meeting in Tulsa.

A Commemorative Service was held October 27, 2011. Memorials were directed to Doctors Without Borders in care of All Souls Unitarian Church, Tulsa.

A native of Minneapolis, Minn., George Odell graduated in 1960 from the highly-respected Edina East High. He received his BA and MAT from Yale. He followed with a PhD in Anthropology/Archaeology at Harvard. He taught in Beirut, Lebanon; Zug, Switzerland; Winchester , Mass.; University of Vancouver, British Columbia; and Brown University. Odell was an anthropology professor for 25 years at the University of Tulsa. He led studies of historic and prehistoric sites in and outside Oklahoma. The university has received notes of condolences worldwide from colleagues who were touched by Dr. Odell during the course of his travels.

In his memorial post, archeologist colleague Don Wyckoff, recently retired at the University of Oklahoma, said of Odell, “This is an individual who will be so greatly missed by all who knew him. He graced my life through our shared concerns with archeology and making sure students learned to do it right.”

Odell moved to the University of Tulsa in 1984 as an associate professor, then became a professor of anthropology in 1997. He was preparing for retirement in 2012. His geographic area of research was the North American midcontinent. He conducted archeological surveys and excavations in Oklahoma in a variety of time periods. His primary research interests were archeological stone tools. He was noted for his knowledge of use-wear on tool edges and surfaces. Although he focused on Oklahoma sites, he continued to analyze collections from other parts of the world.

He spent two years excavating Stone Age sites in the Netherlands. He analyzed stone tools from South Africa, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, France, Mexico, and the American Southwest. Widely published, he had an international reputation in his field.

He was widely known regionally for his help excavating artifacts from a site near Jenks in the late 1980s. There he learned Plains Indians had dealings with Europeans in the area three centuries earlier.
 His book, "La Harpe's Post,” published in 2002, reflects that finding. It is a tale of French-Wichita contact on the eastern U.S. plains.  

His professional affiliations included the Society for American Archaeology (Treasurer-Elect/Treasurer, 2004-06), American Anthropological Association, The Oklahoma Anthropological Society, The Tulsa Archaeological Society, and Plains Anthropological Society, and Southeastern Archaeological Conference.

Among his many honors are the Citation of Merit for Preservation of Oklahoma’s Heritage, Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office, 1992 and 2007; Citation of Service, Oklahoma Anthropological Society, 1999; and Robert E. Bell Award for Distinguished Service to Oklahoma Archeology, Oklahoma Anthropological Society, 1999.

According to the Tulsa World, Dr. Odell’s grandfather and father also were well known. They founded a brushless shaving cream company called Burma-Shave. The company’s witty roadside signs were popular with motorists crisscrossing the United States from 1925 to 1963.

 george standingwith buddiesgeorge and wycoffthinking