David Jeffrey Odell

David Jeffrey Odell

David Jeffrey Odell passed away peacefully in his sleep, in a cabin by the river, in the early morning hours of August 30, 2023.

"Little Ode" or "Big Wave Dave" as Dave was affectionately known, was the middle child of Floyd and Berneil "Buzz" (Johnson) Odell. Dave was born in Davenport, Iowa and grew up in Moline, Illinois. After graduating with the class of '68 from Moline High School, he studied premed Sciences at the University of Colorado (CU). It was on a 93 day fly fishing road trip from CO to Alaska, after graduating from CU, that he discovered the Bitterroot Valley. He went on to earn an MS in Environmental Studies at University of Montana. After graduation, he settled in the Bitterroot, where he resided until his passing.

Dave had incredible energy for life, fueled by his need to explore, and a sense of adventure. He traveled extensively throughout his life, preferring the road less traveled. He had a great sense of humor, loved music and dancing, but most of all, telling stories.

Dave loved nature with all his heart, and enjoyed sharing his impressive knowledge of biology, entomology, and geology. He hiked, climbed, fished, and floated all over Montana. He was a true conservationist. Dave recognized the valuable resource that was the Bitterroot River and the threats of overuse and dewatering, as the magnificent fishery would eventually be discovered. As the first president of the reorganized Bitterroot Chapter of Trout Unlimited (BRTU) he and others focused on improving and protecting the river and fishery. Catch and release regulations, resulting in a more sustainable fishery, were implemented under his leadership. In 1983, he received a special award from the MT chapter of the 100 year old international organization, American Fisheries Society. Dave's research and leadership was recognized, and found to be instrumental in persuading the NW Power Planning Council to purchase water in their Fish and Wildlife program, guaranteeing more water for the expressed purpose of keeping water in the river, to benefit the fishery and riparian ecosystems. All of us in the Bitterroot are enjoying that water today. Dave also restored large reaches of Mitchell Slough and other creeks across Montana in his business Stream Solutions.

Fishing was a profession and pastime for which he had unparalled passion. He was a guide and the outfitter for his business Anglers Afloat, Inc. for 34 years, outfitters license 134. He had one of four original permits to guide on Rock Creek. While he was most at home guiding and fishing the home waters of MT, he made yearly pilgrimages with his wife Diane to fish the saltwater of Belize, and the rivers of New Zealand and Iceland. In 2014, as a member of Team Skwala, they won the coveted Jackson Hole One-Fly Competition.

Dave had another passion, in Real Estate and Construction projects, and in his youth spent 7 years building a handcrafted, custom log home at Smith Creek. He spent countless hours during his life improving the habitat of his land.

Dave is survived by his beloved wife, Diane, his daughter Ellyn (Ryan) Geiser, step-daughter Melissa Cross, and three grandchildren Fin, Maverick and Teagan. Dave is also survived by his brother William "Bill" (Vikki) Odell and his niece Emily (Colm) Kinsella and her two children Breen and Riley and nephew Nicholas (JJ) Odell and his son Ember.

Dave is pre-deceased by his parents, Floyd and Berneil "Buzz" Odell and his sister Lori Odell.

There will be a Celebration of Life on Sept 30 at daughter Ellyn's home in Englewood, CO. A date for a Celebration of Life in the Bitterroot is TBD.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Earth Justice charity.


Obituary from Legacy