7-week Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training starts Thursday, Jan. 10th

BY GEOFF MALEMAN

The community is mourning the death of Loyola Marymount University (LMU) professor Scott Odom, who died at the age of 49 in his home Friday, November 30th, after a long battle with cancer.

Odom, a clinical professor in the university’s Department of English, had spent the last nine years fighting a rare form of cancer — adenoid cystic carcinoma (AAC) — a slow-growing and persistent form of cancer that produced brain and other tumors in his body.

Odom’s father-in-law, Joe Callinan, said he died with his family at his side and received the last rites by Fr. Michael E. Engh, S.J., Dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts.

“Daddy, I love you — you’re such a fighter,” his 11-year-old daughter Rachel told Odom in the moments before his death. “You’re my idol.”

“Scott was not a complainer,” said Callinan, who watched his son-in-law undergo scores of treatments to fight the cancer. “He was so grateful for what he had, and what he had would level a lot of people.”

Odom is survived by his wife, Christine, and their three children, Zachary, 16; Georgia, 13; and Rachel, 11.

A vigil for Odom was held Wednesday, December 5th, at Holy Cross Cemetery, and a Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, December 6th, in Risen Christ Chapel at Holy Cross Cemetery, 5835 W. Slauson Ave. in Culver City.

In addition, a memorial Mass will be celebrated in his honor at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 12th, at Sacred Heart Chapel on the LMU campus.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the name of Scott Odom to The Angeles Clinic Foundation, 2001 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 860W, Santa Monica 90404.

Odom earned his bachelor’s degree in literature from the State University of New York-Purchase College and first came to LMU in 1989, where he was hired as a secretary in the school’s Financial Aid Office. He was quickly promoted to counselor and began working on his master’s degree.

After obtaining his master’s in English from LMU in 1995, he began teaching part-time and ultimately full-time. He subsequently earned a doctorate in creative writing from the Union Institute and University and was promoted to clinical professor in 2004.

Odom taught courses in literature and composition as a member of the English Department and the First Year Institute program.

As a faculty member in the FYI program, he coordinated his core classes with classes in other fields, among them history, American cultures studies and psychology.

He gained a following among students on campus as a respected and talented professor, and as such, his classes were always full.

“He was friendly to everyone,” said Callinan. “He loved his family. He loved his students. He loved the fine and performing arts.”

Callinan said that, despite often excruciating pain, Odom insisted on going to class and teaching his students. During his final weeks in the classroom, Odom taught his classes at LMU with a broken arm that had been shattered by a tumor growing inside it.

“He taught that last week with a broken arm, just hanging by his side useless,” said Callinan. “I don’t think his students had any idea how much pain he was in.”

In addition to teaching, Odom was an accomplished and well-published writer whose work lately has appeared in the New York Quarterly, X Magazine and other magazines throughout the country. He recently published a novel called 95 South, which explores the Eastern Corridor of the United States.

During his battle with cancer, Odom held a leadership role as a member of the Cancer Mentors Network, a group that encourages cancer patients who are struggling to deal with the disease.

I first met Scott Odom and his family more than a year ago when the Rotary Club of Westchester heard his story and began work on a makeover of the Odoms’ Westchester home. I was constantly struck by his eternally positive outlook on life and the fact that he truly considered each day a gift.

I will forever remember the look on his face and the heartfelt appreciation he had for the Rotarians and other community members who dedicated four days to making his home a little nicer.

“Sometimes you get really depressed about all the things that are going on in the world, with the war and the government,” said Scott, after seeing his remodeled home, “but then something like this happens, and you realize that the world is a beautiful place.”

Well, the world is a beautiful place because of people like Scott Odom.

His positive attitude was infectious and his smile was contagious. I know he will always hold a special place in my heart and in those of every Rotarian who worked on the home makeover project.

CERT TRAINING — Local government prepares for everyday emergencies, but during a disaster the number and scope of incidents can overwhelm conventional emergency services.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program is designed to equip citizens with basic training to effectively serve as first-responders to disaster or emergency situations.

Taught by highly experienced Los Angeles city firefighters, CERT training includes earthquake preparedness, light firefighting, triage, first aid, light search and rescue, disaster psychology and team organization.

Sign-ups are now being taken for a class that will be held at Los Angeles Fire Station No. 5 at 8900 S. Emerson Ave., in Westchester.

The classes will be from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays, January 10th through February 21st, and are offered free of charge by the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Reservations are requested. Sign-ups, Cyndi Hench at (310) 779-6706 or by e-mail, WPDR NW@yahoo.com.

Information, www.cert-la .com/.

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