September 3, 1938 - August 17, 2013 OKLAHOMA CITY Odilia Dank died Saturday at Oklahoma Heart Hospital after a lengthy battle with cancer. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 3, 1938, to parents Dr. Peter and Dr. Magdalene Russo, she came to Oklahoma City as a child and graduated from Casady School. While at Casady she received both the Casady Award and the Smith College Trophy as an outstanding student and leader. Odilia earned her Bachelor's degree in Sociology from Randolph Macone Women's College and later received a Master's degree in Education from the University of Oklahoma. She served as a teacher and counselor in the Oklahoma City and Mid-Del School Districts for 28 years, including a decade as counselor at Del City High School. In 1994 she successfully sought the office of State Representative from District 85 in northwest Oklahoma City, a position only recently vacated by a young woman named Mary Fallin. In her 12 years as a state legislator, Odilia fought for reforms in education and the legislative process, and in 2004 she became the first Republican to chair the House Education Committee, where she sponsored legislation to create the state end-of-instruction tests and to bring school choice to parents and students through charter schools. In 1998 an Oklahoman editorial praised her as "an army of one" for her successful battle, carried all the way to the State Supreme Court, that led to rules that required that lawmakers have a chance to read bills before they were asked to vote on them. Odilia also served two terms as vice-chair of the Oklahoma Republican Party, from 1999-2003, and was a delegate to Republican National Conventions in 2000 and 2004. With her loving husband of more than 30 years, David, she was active in support of many charitable and community efforts including the Good Shepherd Catholic School for children with autism. Together in private life and public service they were an unbreakable and stalwart team. She is also survived by her loving daughter, Dr. Trina Joslin, son-in-law Dr. Gale Joslin, and grandchildren Hannah and Daniel, all of Owasso; her sisters, Elydreth Horton and husband Don and Petrina Medley and husband Bob of Oklahoma City; sister-in-law, Deborah Russo; nieces and nephews, Joseph, Suzanne, Patrick, Michelle and Brian Harvey, Mary Kaizer, Peter Lee, Joseph, Adam and Stephanie Russo, Kathy Meyer, Mariana Vaughan, Robert, Daniel and Nancy Medley, Laura Hunter, and Maggie Brinkman. She was preceded in death by her parents, by brother Peter Russo and nephews Terrance and Thomas Harvey. Rosary will be held Friday night at 6:30 p.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. Saturday, both at Christ the King Catholic Church where she and David were longtime members, followed by burial at Resurrection Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the
, Birthchoice or Baptist Homes for Children of Oklahoma.
Published in The Oklahoman from Aug. 21 to Aug. 23, 2013