By Emma Gray
When David Odom passed away on January 14, 2012, we lost a dear friend, and Portland’s trees lost one of their most stalwart defenders. In the wake of our loss, the one thing that became unquestionable was our desire and our need to memorialize David in a way that honored his contributions to our community and created a fitting legacy of the vibrant life he led.
David was passionate about trees. But even more than that, he loved teaching others about the trees around us and our special relationship to them. He was especially fond of teaching children. His energy, patience, warmth and humor made every child his captive audience. When a child spent time with David learning about trees, the child left feeling very much that he or she had made a wonderful new friend.
One of David’s favorite places in Portland was the Columbia Children’s Arboretum. This special place in North Portland, which David dubbed “the secret park,” has now become inextricably linked in our memories with David. We are excited to tell you that Portland Parks & Recreation has approved a proposal to add to the arboretum a grove of trees in David’s memory and to install signage to mark and designate these trees as ‘Odom Woods.’
This grove will be a new tupelo collection comprised of several species and cultivars of a tree that David loved. Central to this plan will be the brand new tupelo cultivar, Nyssa Sylvatica ‘David Odom’ AFTERBURNER (TM) Tupelo, grown by J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. and named in David’s honor. Additionally, the plan includes adding labels to the arboretum’s existing collection of specimen trees. In this way, all visitors to the arboretum will be able to learn about the trees, and David will never stop being our teacher.
All donations made to the David Odom Memorial Fund at Friends of Trees will be put directly toward making this vision a reality. To donate to the fund online, click here. Donors can choose the donation category ‘established memorial fund,’ and then choose David’s name from the drop-down menu. Checks with David’s name designated on the memo line may be sent to the Friends of Trees Portland office at: 3117 NE MLK Jr. Blvd, Portland, OR 97212.
–Gray is Individual Donor Relations Specialist at Friends of Trees.