James F. O’Donnell – Jim to those who knew him – passed away on July 16, 2020.
He was born in Niagara Falls, NY, where he began his lifelong love for the outdoors.
He studied forestry at Paul Smith University in the Adirondacks, and, after fulfilling his military duty in Germany, received his forestry degree at the University of Idaho.
While in Germany Jim met and married Jeanne, his wife of 64 years.
After 3 years with Oregon State Forestry Department, he entered private industry where he worked for associations in Portland, OR, and Tacoma and Spokane, WA, before starting his own business called Forest & Wildlife Management. Moments to cherish were meeting President Carter in the Oval Office and leading a delegation of foresters on a People to People tour of China in 1986.
Jim and Jeanne had an extended family of 6 children, 12 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren. His love for his family shows in the way he was able to pass on to them his love for nature, complete with all its wildlife, birds and the trees. It was his greatest wish to show everyone nature’s beauty, and the need for those in the forest industries and the environmentalists to work together in order to preserve it. It was the reason he ran for Congress, and later for Land Commissioner in Washington State. He was ahead of the times, which often cost him the distrust on both sides.
A lifetime membership in the Society of American Foresters as well as the Tahoma Audubon Society was a great honor for him.
Jim was a storyteller, a supporter of the Native American tribes, and loved American history, particularly that of the West.
He wore his Buckskin outfit while regaling the Lewis and Clark stories, and, for 20 years, was Santa Claus for children and elderly alike in Gig Harbor.
Though his family will miss his presence, his legacy is living on in all of them, and the many people he affected with his love for life.
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