Harry O’Dell Memorial Park dedicated in Hiwassee

Noel, Gary and Ranny O’Dell pose with Supervisor Andy McCready next to the park memorial for Harry O’Dell. (Mike Williams photos)

Last Friday the Harry O’Dell Memorial Park was dedicated on what one speaker called “hallowed ground on the most scenic and beautiful spot in Hiwassee.”

The park is located on land where the old Hiwassee Elementary School was once located – land that was owned by Harry O’Dell and the O’Dell family.

IMG957843Dallas Cox led the dedication ceremony which was hosted by Pulaski County.

Cox paid tribute to O’Dell and his family for “having done a great service to the community of Hiwassee for well over a hundred years.”

Cox recounted how when O’Dell returned from service in the Navy during World War II there was little work available in the area.

“But that did not stop him,” Cox said. “He used the skills he had learned in the Navy Sea Bees to find and make work for himself, his brothers and many of the men of the area.”

A skilled bridge builder, O’Dell would find work in many places and then return to Hiwassee and form a work crew to accompany him to the job, keeping many of the local men busy for many years.

Cox said O’Dell and his crews worked in places like Aiken, S.C. on the Savannah River nuclear project, in Utah, and in West Virginia.

“He helped to build much of the Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C. Many of the local men followed him and when they finished many of them stayed because of the availability of work in that area,” Cox said.

Cox recalled how O’Dell built a home just over the hill from the park.

“Here his wife raised the children while he usually worked away from home during the week. He loved his home and this piece of land. Here he raised cattle, and to the pleasure of the local boys he built a pond about 500 feet from here to water his cattle. We spent many happy hours swimming in that pond,” Cox recalled.

“This most beautiful piece of land in the area will become hallow ground for all of us who knew Harry so many years ago. He was part of the ‘greatest generation’ who gave their time and sacred honor to help win the greatest war in history.

Saying the “beautiful park will become a beacon of hope for all the county,” Cox said O’Dell had “set a great example and inspired all of us to be all we could be.”

“In honor of Mr. O’Dell it is our duty to improve and keep this land beautiful so our children will remember it as we have,” Cox said.

Other speakers at the event included 7th District Del. Nick Rush, County Administrator Jonathan Sweet and County Board of Supervisors Chairman Andy McCready who presented a resolution to the O’Dell sons – Ranny, Gary and Noel – who were present for the dedication.

A key feature of the new park is playground equipment erected by Jim Farris with assistance by Boy Scouts from the nearby Camp Powhatan Boy Scout Camp.

Rev. David Hoover provided the invocation for the ceremony. Sharon Taylor performed the National Anthem. The Boy Scouts lead the gathering in the Pledge of Allegiance.

American Legion Post 58 in Dublin provided a 21-gun salute, “Taps” and “Eight Bells” – meaning “End of Watch” – in honor of O’Dell’s Naval service in World War II.

O’Dell’s sons raised the flag over the park and were recognized during the event.

During the event Jim Farris of the Boy Scouts Camp and scouts were recognized as among those who assisted in installing the new playground equipment.

Assistant County Administrator Anthony Akers told the gathering the park is a work in progress and things will be added to it in the future.

One such addition will be a ballfield and backstop situated in a corner of the park away from the roadway.