Sunday, June 1, 2008

Woman in iron lung 'had strength, honor'

The following story inspired me very much the other day so I posted to show a Woman's strength and what she was up against. By TYRONE TONY REED JR. • Gannett Tennessee • June 1, 2008 JACKSON, Tenn. — Family and friends celebrated the life of Dianne Odell on Saturday, not because she was the nation's longest survivor in an iron lung, but because she did not let her situation get her down. "She was a woman of noble character, who had strength, was not afraid, had honor, wisdom and kindness," said Ray Hawk, minister of Campbell Street Church of Christ. Hundreds of people attended Odell's funeral, which was held at the church. She was buried at Nebo Cemetery in Henderson County. Odell died at age 61 on Wednesday after a power failure caused her iron lung to shut down. A generator the family had on hand to power the iron lung in case of an outage did not come on. Odell was diagnosed at the age of 3 with bulbar polio, which left her paralyzed and unable to breathe on her own. But she did not let her condition keep her from living life to the fullest and reaching out to others, Hawk said. Odell wrote a book, Blinky Less Light, about the smallest star in heaven. The children's book, which took her 10 years to finish, has almost sold out of the 100,000 copies printed. "There are many children who will be helped by her writings," Hawk said. "She was known by folks, literally, all over the world." Hawk added, "She had a beauty that did not fade away. She never lost her true beauty or her real charm." James Meadows, former minister of East Chester Street Church of Christ, said Odell learned to be content in her iron lung and decided to have a positive outlook on life for herself and others around her. "She was a friend because she showed herself to be friendly," Meadows said. Meadows said he talked to Odell's family and asked them what they would remember most about her. "Her sisters, Donna (Lewis) and Mary Beth (Beyer), said that they were sisters who had little squabbles and their differences, but they loved each other," Meadows said. "Her father, Freeman, said that he will remember that she wanted a kiss every night. Her mother, Geneva, said that she will remember that Dianne never complained about her condition and that she was pleasant." Hawk said the family appreciated the community's support in Odell's life and her death. "Dianne is free from her pain, free from the iron lung and free from a body that no longer served her well," Hawk said. "She is now free to enjoy heaven for eternity."

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