October 4, 1944 - November 7, 2013
Janet "Jan" Davies age 69 a retired Salem newspaper reporter, died on November 7, 2013 in Salem of complications from genetic emphysema. She had diabetes and breast cancer.
Born in San Francisco, she was raised in the era of Underwood typewriters and linotypes. Her parents, Julia and Dwight O'Dell, were married in 1941 in a Bay Area newspaper office and moved in 1948 to Fortuna, Calif., where they operated the Humboldt Beacon weekly newspaper.
At the age of 12 Davies started doing odd jobs at the print shop and later served as the high school sports and news correspondent for the paper. In 1962, before she entered college, she worked for the Humboldt Times daily in Eureka.
At the University of Oregon, she worked for the campus newspaper, the Oregon Daily Emerald, primarily in the sports department. On Nov. 30 1963, she became the first woman in the history of football's Hayward Field to be admitted to the press box there to cover a game. In 1965, she won a national journalism award for best coverage of campus bowling news.
As a teenager, she became the only person ever to flunk out of Frances Baribault's School of Charm. Her mother has such high hopes for her clumsy daughter.
Davies began a 35 year career at the Oregon Statesman in 1967. Early on, she wrote a bowling column. To this day, some people still identify her with the column. She covered just about every beat at the Statesman Journal, specializing in obituary writing and "cops and courts." Accuracy was her passion, and she sought to make complex legal issues understandable to the readers.
Retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Edwin Peterson had this to say about one such story. "It is excellent. The reasons: It is understandable, simply written and extremely well organized."
A series of stories she wrote about Oregon's new criminal code was produced in a booklet and distributed to many Salem-area schools. For that effort, she won a prestigious Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association in 1972.
Another series of stories Davies wrote -- this time in the 1980s -- captured the hearts of readers. It covered her travels in 1984 to the Soviet Union with a group of lawyers and judges studying the country's legal system.
In 2000, the Marion County Bar Association presented her its Compton Award, given to a lay person in the community who has provided outstanding service to the bar. In presenting the award, Oregon Supreme Court Justice Paul De Muniz told her that she was a respected journalist and a person who has contributed immensely to the betterment of the justice system, the legal profession and the education of the public.
Davies never rested on her laurels. After nearly three decades with the paper, she was named Employee of the Year for the company in 1995. She ended her career in 2002, taking disability retirement because of her emphysema.
During her retirement, she traveled as much as possible, including a river boat cruise in Austria and Germany and a trip to Italy. She was a frequent concert-goer along the West Coast and reveled in the music of dozens of artists.
Davies also did volunteer work for the Oregon Symphony Association in Salem and the Eco-Earth globe project in Salem Riverfront Park.
Her greatest joy was her connection to the University of Oregon women's basketball program. She had season tickets to the games and was approached in 2003 to edit the newsletter published by the Fast Break Club, a booster organization. She wrote about the Ducks until her death.
Her brother, Patrick O'Dell, ran the Beacon newspaper with several other business ventures in Humboldt County and now owns the Turnbull Wine Cellars in Napa Valley. In the 1970s, he created the first TV guide for owners of satellite dishes.
Their older brother, Robert O'Dell, who was their father's from a former marriage, was a teacher and social worker in London before retiring. Both survive her, along with brother-in-law David Gleeson of London, former husband Dan Davies of Salem, award winning sherpa Candace Reed, traveling companion Cathy Ingalls, and beloved cat Oreo.
A Celebration of Life will be held in Salem in early December. The family suggests in lue of flowers contributions to the Union Gospel Mission, P.O. Box 431, Salem, Oregon 98308, of Salem Friends of Felines, 980 Commercial St. S.E. Salem, Oregon, 97302. Arrangements by Restlawn Funeral Home of Salem, Oregon.
Published in StatesmanJournal from Nov. 13 to Nov. 14, 2013