IN MEMORIAM: IBEW Local 1439’s Richard ‘Digger’ O’Dell


Richard “Digger” O’Dell, a member of IBEW Local 1439, passed away on Dec. 31, 2019, at his home in Arnold surrounded by family. He was 89.

Brother O’Dell served two tours of duty in Korea as a medic in the U.S. Army and was on the front lines with the team known as the Pied Pipers that searched for the causes of Korean Hemorrhagic Fever. When he returned home, he started working for Union Electric as a union lineman/troubleshooter and married his wife, Cathy, whom he had met in high school. They had four children.

A father who was very active in his children’s schools, the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts, he was also a member of the Elks, the American Legion, the National Rifle Association and he served three terms as Commander of VFW Post 2184.

Brother O’Dell loved the outdoors and was an enthusiastic hunter and fisherman. He hunted and fished all over the U.S. and Canada. His love of the outdoors also included the O’Dell family farm where both cattle and hay was raised, and where pig roasts were hosted for the enjoyment of all.

He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Catherine M. O’Dell (nee: Baehr); his daughter, Barbara (Daniel) Bates; sons, William (Pam) O’Dell, Richard S. (Karen) O’Dell and Timothy O’Dell; grandchildren, Chrissy (Peter) Stern, Adrienne (Aaron) McCallister, Shawn O’Dell, Brandon (Barbara) O’Dell, Shane O’Dell and Cody O’Dell; and great-grandchildren, Seth Stern, Chrystian O’Dell, Maddison O’Dell and Marshall McCallister.

A funeral was held at Hoffmeister South County Chapel on Jan. 10 followed by a committal service with full military honors at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in South County.

Memorials may be made to the National Kidney Foundation, Finance Dept., 30 East 33rd St., New York, NY 10016 or online at

(The Labor Tribune publishes union member obituary notices free of charge as a service to our union readers, their families and friends. If you have an obituary notice or announcement of a member’s passing to share, please contact Correspondent Sheri Gassaway at or Editor Tim Rowden at


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here