James Otis “Odie” Wilcox was born April 23, 1935, in Heppner, Oregon, to Charles Bennett Wilcox and Tressie Venus (Allstott) Wilcox. The youngest of three children, he came into this world at five and a half pounds. However, as they say, dynamite comes in small packages and he was definitely proof of that.
Odie from the earliest of years loved fishing and hunting; he understood both like an art that he practiced nearly his entire life. He was an athletic, active and social person who seemed to know no stranger in Hermiston as he spent nearly his entire life raised and raising his own family here.
He came from pioneer families whose homestead farms were in the Heppner and Lexington areas. Hard work and hard play were hand in hand. He was not a stranger to either one, sometimes enjoying the play a bit too much!
He was active in sports in Hermiston. At the time it was called Hermiston Union High School, later becoming Armand Larive Middle School – Mr. Larive was actually the principal while Odie was there. He enjoyed football and basketball, but his true love was boxing. At that time they had boxing in junior high as well as high school. As noted, he wasn’t tall of stature, standing a mere 5’3” and weighed less than 120 pounds, but he was built like a heavyweight and threw a punch to marvel anyone who thought they could best him.
After high school he enlisted in the Air Force, became a mechanic technician and spent much of his enlistment in Alaska — where again he was busy fishing any chance he could get.
Following his enlistment he returned home and met Glenda Parsons. They soon married and shared 58 years together. Within 13 months of marriage they had their first born, Pamela Jean, followed by twin brothers a short 13 months after her, James Eric and Robert Otis. Of course, hunting and fishing would also play a large part of their lives, thus continuing a family tradition of love of the land, nature and self-sufficiency.
Odie worked for the City of Hermiston Water Department for over 30 years and also was a Volunteer fireman for nearly as long. He considered the firefighting role to be his hunting, fishing and beer money. All three were equally important.
Odie also enjoyed horseshoe pitching and was instrumental in the formation of the club in Hermiston. He also bowled league for many years. He and Glenda traveled to the out-of-town tournaments together for both of these interests. Yard sales were their form of date night, trying to find bargains and interesting antiques or whatever struck their fancy. He loved to search out old home sites and snoop through them to find little treasures.
He was essentially a simple man who was most at home on a rock by a good fishing hole, with a pole, a six-pack of beer, and a pack of Camels.
Sadly, in his last few years he began to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, which slowly robbed him of even the memories of his best fishing stories and the friends he had known and loved. On August 16, 2018, at the age of 83 years, he left the sadness and confusion to go in peace to that rock by a perfect fishing hole where I’m sure he found his folks and brother waiting for him with a cold beer and lies to tell.
Odie is survived by wife, Glenda (Parsons) Wilcox; daughter Pamela (Creigh) Lincoln of Hermiston; sons Eric (Daphne) Wilcox of Dufur and Robert (Marie) Wilcox of Huntington; 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren; sister Patricia (Marvin) Kennedy; and sister in-law Gloria (Aragon) Wilcox.
He was preceded by his older beloved brother, Robert Wilcox, and his parents, Charles and Tressie Wilcox.
There will be a private family gathering at a later time.
In lieu of flowers it is asked that donations be made to The Alzheimer’s Foundation.
If you are a fisherman, give your next big one a head nod to Odie.
Please feel free to sign the online condolence at www.burnsmortuary.com