Ray Palmer Oden, Jr.
Funeral services will be held for Mr. Ray Palmer Oden, Jr., 88, of Shreveport, Louisiana, at 2:30pm on Monday, March 25, 2013 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 211 Atlantic Avenue, in Shreveport, LA. Father Karl Daigle, Father Richard J. Lombard and Father Peter Mangum will be concelebrating the funeral mass in his honor. A visitation will be held prior to the mass from 1:00-2:30pm in the gathering space of St. Joseph's Church. A private graveside ceremony will follow the funeral mass at Forest Park Cemetery in Shreveport.
Mr. Oden passed away peacefully the evening of Thursday, March 21, 2013, surrounded by his family. A native of Shreveport and a product of the local public schools, Mr. Oden attended Creswell Grammar School and Byrd High School, where some of his best friendships were fostered, as evidenced by his weekly "ROMEO" luncheon ("Retired Old Men Eating Out"). He attended LSU majoring in Agriculture, Mr. Oden was a member of the Alpha Zeta Honorary Fraternity and a proud member of the Kappa Alpha Order, Alpha Gamma Chapter.
In the fall of 1941, Mr. Oden vividly remembered being in his dorm room in Tiger Stadium when news broke of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. At that moment, his ROTC training at LSU took on added significance and in the fall of 1942, Mr. Oden enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He attended Columbia University Midshipmen's School in New York City, where he was commissioned as an Ensign and sent to the Naval Mine Warfare School in Yorktown, Virginia. Mr. Oden's minesweeper had departed Saipan and was en route to Okinawa when the U.S. atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He served two years in the Pacific and was Commanding Officer of a Minesweeper in Philippine waters when he received his honorable discharge at the end of World War II
After the war, Mr. Oden returned to Baton Rouge, graduating from LSU in 1947. Following graduation, Mr. Oden returned to Shreveport where he was self-employed; engaged primarily in farming as owner and operator of Rosedale Plantation in North Bossier Parish. In 1950, Mr. Oden met the love of his life, Miss Dorothy Gene Long, whom he remained faithfully married to for sixty-three years. In 1957, Mr. Oden joined his father, Ray P. Oden, Sr. at the bank he co-founded, Louisiana Bank and Trust Co. Over the next 32 years, Mr. Oden served in many capacities including President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board. Mr. Oden's career was defined by honesty, a relentless work ethic, and his generosity and devotion to customers in times of need.
Mr. Oden devoted himself to many causes and organizations outside of his profession, including serving as director on the Board of Trustees of Jesuit High School and the Salvation Army. He was recognized in the early 80's by the Shreveport Optimist Club as "Mr. Shreveport" for his outstanding community service. Mr. Oden passionately volunteered over half of his life to the Willis Knighton Health System. He was elected as a Trustee of the Board in July of 1965 and then to Chairman in 1968, a position he held until his death, ultimately serving as the longest-standing Chairman of the Board of any health system in the country.
Mr. Oden was an encouraging advocate and strong supporter of his childrens' pursuits, rarely missing a sporting event or piano recital. Mr. Oden did not miss a single home game at Jesuit/Loyola well past his only grandson's, John Evans, playing days in 2002.
Mr. Oden was a former member of the First Methodist Church and the First Southern Methodist Church of Shreveport. In his later years he converted to Catholicism and joined St. Joseph Catholic Church.
His mother, Vera Taylor Oden, and father, Ray Palmer Oden, Sr., and sister, Frances Oden Youngblood, preceded him in death. He is survived by his loving wife of sixty-three years, Mrs. Dorothy Long Oden of Shreveport; daughter Lynn Oden White and husband Gordon White of Spring, TX; son, Stuart L. Oden and wife Kim Grann Oden, of Shreveport; daughter, Karen Oden Evans and husband Keith John Evans, of Shreveport; niece Mary Anne Shemwell of Shreveport; grandchildren, to whom he was affectionately known as "Daddy O", Laura White Gawlik of The Woodlands, TX; Amanda White Tietze and husband B.J. of The Woodlands, TX; Allison White Saladino and husband Dee of Spring, TX; Dr. John Michael Evans and wife Meredith of Birmingham, AL; Emily Ann Evans and Rebecca Lynn Evans of Shreveport, LA; and Anne Katherine Oden, Mary Long Oden, and Leigh Grann Oden of Shreveport. The great-grandchildren of whom he took much pleasure are Gavin Gawlik, Abby and Ben Tietze, and Anthony Saladino. Also very beloved is Clotile Howard, who has been a very special part of our family since 1950.
Pallbearers will be Dr. John Evans, Dee Saladino, B. J. Tietze, Carlton Murray, Skipper Dickson, and Sonny Moss. Honorary pallbearers will be Twain Giddens, Dr. Thomas Strain, John Hearne, Ed Jones, Jim Gibson, Henry Brenner, Jerry Fielder, Dr. Pete Blanchard, Bruce Lynn, Jim Elrod, Walter Hawkins, Dr. Billy Fowler, Tigner Walker and Loy Moore.
The family wishes to extend its thanks to Dr. Pete Blanchard and his wonderful staff including Jenny, Vicki, and Pam; as well as Dr. Anil Nanda, and the entire staff of the Willis Knighton Health System. The family also wants to thank Daddy O's special caregivers, Francis Elzie and Norma Davis.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to St. Vincent de Paul c/o St. Joseph Church, 211 Atlantic Street, Shreveport, LA 71105, Food Bank of NW Louisiana, 2307 Texas Avenue, Shreveport, LA 71103 or to the charity of donor's choice.