William Thomas “Tom” Odum, 91 passed at home on June 8, 2019. He was born July 5, 1927, Atlanta, GA, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Edward Odum, and brother to Edmund Odum. Tom was born with a healthy, strong body and a bright, innovative mind. He wanted to know how everything worked and did not know anything about “inside the box”.
At 17 Tom joined the Marine Corps for the duration plus six. Later he entered Auburn University earning a BSME degree in 1950.
At Auburn he continued to pursue his passion in motorcycle racing leading to a position at Harley Davidson factory, Milwaukee where he designed the "K" model.
In 1955 Tom began his career with the Navy where he became a civilian Navy-qualified diver to better address diver problems, equipment, and R&D. He was instrumental in organizing hardware into integrated systems. Tom and his team designed, constructed and tested SEALAB I on a small budget and short deadline.
Tom was among the first civilian volunteer for the on-site pilot NRDL-Vietnam.
Tom's distinguished career included the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award. Tom was inducted into the Labs Hall of Fame noting his exceptional contribution to the advancement of Navy diving technology. He was instrumental in the planning and development of the Ocean Simulation Facility.
In the 70's, Tom enlisted MDL to host a pig roast honoring MAC. He with other volunteers, did the cooking. The event became an annual tradition.
Tom is survived by his loving wife of 49 years, Doris Odum, daughters Gerry Connelly (John); Kaki Odum; granddaughter, Lauren Connelly, grandson Jeremy Connelly (Claire); twin great grandsons.
Services will be held June 12 at 2:00 p.m. Kent Forest Lawn Chapel, Pastor Billy Melvin officiating. Family will receive friends 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. prior to service.
Versus flowers, the family suggests a memorial donation to Covenant Care Hospice; 107 W. 19th Street; Panama City, FL 32405.
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