Monday 11th Dec 2023

(John) Michael O’Dell – BaB 41-47


Submitted by Tim O’Dell

Michael passed away peacefully at home on February 14th 2023, aged 92. Much loved husband to Jo and father of Tim, Christopher and Alice. Beloved grandfather of Beth, Tom, Joseph, Maddie, Peter, Benjamin and Katherine.

Michael was born in Chiddingly, East Sussex, on the 30th May 1930. He was christened John Michael – following a family tradition of naming all first-born sons John. But everyone knew him then… and for the rest of his life…. as Michael. Or Mike.

Life for baby Michael didn’t have the smoothest of starts. As a toddler he contracted tuberculosis and spent about a year in Princess Alice Hospital in Eastbourne.   A long time… but as he would often say subsequently, he never spent another night in hospital for the 90 or so years that followed.

In his childhood, Michael discovered the love of many things that were to become important to him in his life. Notably cricket and the cinema. Michael became a regular patron of the Picture Palace in Hailsham, where he learned to love the thrills of Hollywood westerns, the sharp wit of WC Fields and the musicals of Fred Astaire.

In 1946… when my father was just 15, he had to face the devastating loss of his mother who died at the age of only 37. As the oldest of 3 siblings, Michael had to take on the role of big brother in more ways than one for his brother Miles and his sister Vanessa.

After school and national service Michael enrolled at Law School and became a trainee in Watford where he met his future wife, Josephine Mary Perkin. On the 13th of September 1958, Michael and Jo were married at the Parish church in my mother’s hometown of Bushey in Hertfordshire.

In the early 1960’s he moved to Farnham in Surrey where he joined a local firm of solicitors, Potter and Kempson, later known as Bell’s where he became a senior partner.

Away from work Michael overcame his natural shyness to become an enthusiastic member of a local Amateur Dramatics group. Away from treading the boards he was regular on the courts at Rowledge Tennis Club. Where his opponents were often baffled by his convention-defying approach to the sport … in which his 2nd serve was always twice as powerful as his 1st. After he retired in 1990, life remained busy. He became a keen pub quizzer, including an appearance on William G. Stewart’s 15 to 1.He was also a lifelong supporter of Sussex County Cricket Club.

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