Dr. Bruce was my best and closest friend. He was an avid bird lover and photographer, and we used to go out photographing birds together. In 2005, he found that he had colon cancer. For the last several years he has put up a valiant fight to beat it. But about 4:15 p.m. Monday, with his family around him at home. He finally succumbed to the cancer. He was literally an amazing man. After graduating from Montebello high in 1945, 2 years later, he earned a bachelor of science degree from USC in 1947 with the distinction of being the youngest in his class at the age of 24 Dr. Odou graduated from medical school in 1951. While practicing medicine. He fell in love with a cute nurse that he met in the hospital. On April 5, 1951 he and Shirly were married at St. Benedict Church in Montebello. From 1954 to 1955 he served as a flight surgeon for the U.S. Air Force and was commissioned a captain. He and his wife and oldest child were stationed in Japan where he quickly learned Japanese and remained fluent in the language for the rest of his life. Their second child mark was born in Japan in 1958 Dr. Odou was transferred to USAF Clark Field Hospital in the Philippine Islands, where he was chief of surgery. Shirley and the two children moved back to Montebello at this time. In 1957 Bruce and his brother Eugene began to practice medicine together and they continued to do so for 45 years. Between the two of them, they delivered more than 8000 babies at Beverly Hospital and tended to the needs of countless other patients that came through the doors of their Beverly Boulevard office. Dr. Bruce and Dr. Eugene were brothers and partners, but most of all best friends.
Since Dr. Odou would get restless when not doing enough he kept busy during his after work hours by joining the Montebello city Council in 1963. He served as councilman for three years and then became mayor of the city in 1966.
He secretly began to take flight lessons and surprised his wife one day with his pilot's license. Always looking for a challenge, he became the first pilot to fly a private plane with his family across the Arctic Circle to Europe. This was done in a single-engine plane. They did carry a lifeboat in case they had to crash land. This record wasn't good enough for him so on June 10, 1977. He made the Guiness book of world records for having logged the most takeoffs and landings from sun rise to sunset on 124 airfields in California in 14 hours and six minutes. The year before that, Dr. Odou heroically flew supplies and administered medical assistance to the people of Guatemala, following the earthquake of 1976. He and Shirley also flew frequently with their close friends and pastor father Frederick Schell. Their favorite location was Alaska.
Bruce became an avid runner at the age of 50 and ran marathons in Boston and New York, London Zurich and Los Angeles. He also ran in local 10K races and often won in his age group.
Everyone marveled at his ability to entertain crowds with his magic tricks, and his unending fountain of stories and jokes. His delivery of a punchline was impeccable.
He retired from practicing medicine in 1992 and immediately filled his days teaching math and science to high school students, and sometimes junior high school students at Padre Pio Academy in Garden Grove California. His daughter Amy remarked that he felt more passion and got immense pleasure while teaching at the school
The students felt his love and concern and look forward to his class where they could learn current events and become imbued with his wealth of knowledge and miscellaneous facts. Many of his students have written about him as a tremendous role model and someone they hope to imitate. He broke down and wept when in 2005 after 13 years of teaching. He said he had to leave the school and embarked upon the final phase of his life. His battle with colon cancer, even though he had planned to teach only 10 years he was not ready to quit after thirteen
He fought valiantly, always supported by his loving wife and children and family. As a patient at the city of Hope his strength encourage probably helped advance medicine in the fight of cancer.
Even though his last three years were filled fighting cancer, he began a new passion that of birdwatching and bird photography. He gained another group of friend birdwatchers and photographers and graced everyone he knew with e-mails of the many birds he found.
Dr. Bruce Odou is survived by his wife Shirley and six children. Dr. Janet Staples Edwards, Dr. Mark Odou. Patrick Odou. Marty Odou-Potkin, Dyan Russell and Amy Yue; eighteen grandchildren and one on the way two great grandchildren and his brother Eugene. His accomplishments are too many to mention and we apologize for any we have missed. He was inducted into the Montebello high school Hall of Fame in 2006 on the plaque that they awarded him was written "His life has been dedicated to human health, social justice and service to mankind. He possesses a giving heart and a disciplined mine. His attributes will long be admired and remembered."
No one but God knows how many lives have been affected by this wonderful man. God bless you, Dr. Bruce. We are praying for you.
Any typographical errors are my fault, and I apologize for any. Al Lee