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Tribute to O.D. O'Donnell

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BC: 06.29.12 | Designed by Patty Stern, CMP DMM Group Communications

FC: "Hello, Guys and Dolls..."

1: A TRIBUTE | O. D. O'Donnell | June 29, 2012

2: I introduce this project with a depth of gratitude so great I can’t do it justice with words alone. I have been truly humbled by this man who has made the highest purpose of his life serving others. As he spent many decades engaging others to work together, I was being born, going to grade school, high school, college and eventually entering the work force. A few years after I began my career in this industry, our paths crossed and I found that my life would be enriched by this man known as OD. We met at an industry event at Pizza Hut Park. I doubt he remembers the day we met but I definitely do! OD has a presence about him and he certainly did that day. He sought me out as someone who might be looking for the orientation and began to fill me in on the traditions and history of that organization. He seemed to know everyone and they absolutely knew him! I left that day thinking that I might have just met one of the most powerful men in the meetings and events industry. Soon after I began seeing him everywhere. I landed on the MPI D/FW Chapter Membership Committee after some time and there he was once again. He began to groom me as I continued to take on additional volunteer roles. He taught me what it meant to respect tradition and “build a committee I would go to war with”. His passion for our membership was inspiring and so I was inclined to continue serving it. He encouraged me and molded me into someone I had no idea I could be. He became a personal friend that would give me his ear in confidence and also give me a dose of truth if I got off track. OD would spend hours at my house telling me stories. | Forward

3: Stories about the great floods in Pennsylvania where he escaped into a boat from the second story window, being shot in a plane flying over Germany in World War 2, knocking out a would-be mugger on the streets of Houston with his semi-legal brass knuckles, hanging out with Sammy Davis Jr. and the list goes on and on. He always thought we were just talking but I can see now that he was teaching me about life. And what a life he has lived and continues to live to the fullest! When the idea was brought to me by Patty Stern to create a book of tributes to OD, I instantly knew we had to make it happen! I'm thankful to Patty Stern, Mary Lynn Novelli, Dana Rhoden and Betty Garrett who each conspired to keep this project "top secret" and ensure the book came to fruition. This labor of love brings to you the many faces of those who have been touched by OD and some of the cherished memories that we have been given. As we begin a new year for the MPI D/FW Chapter, I have been beating the drums to recognize our past. We recognize 35 years of this great chapter and OD has been an instrumental part of it all. As the 2012-2013 President of MPI D/FW, I could not think of a more fitting way to lay the foundation for our theme, ENGAGE, than to recognize the man who has engaged so many to become active in our association. Thank you for your close friendship, ongoing mentoring, far-reaching vision and devoted passion for our MPI D/FW Chapter history. I love you OD and I'm forever grateful to you for igniting a leader from deep inside me! | Lauren Dunnaway, CTA 2012-2013 MPI D/FW Chapter President

4: If only MPI could clone OD O'Donnell (MPI D/FW Chapter's Secret Weapon) My first dealing with OD was in 1986 when MPI was moving the international offices from Middletown, Ohio to Dallas, Texas. Over the years I’ve gotten to know OD and discover what a special individual he is. As I reflect about OD, the following thoughts came to mind: If you need something, OD is a “go to guy” who will make it happen, no matter how difficult or complex, he could be relied on to make it happen. He has a keen desire to document the organization’s past. He serves as the self appointed historian by taking responsibility for creating a valuable resource of our organization’s heritage. One example? Initiating the membership pins to recognize our member involvement every year. He is a “one person membership recruiting department” and I’m confident he holds the record for having recruited the most MPI D/FW Chapter members. Lastly, from an association management perspective, OD is an association executive’s dream come true. A member who not only supports the organization with his dues and attendance, but does anything he is asked with a positive and willing spirit. OD is the type of person who makes others feel proud to be a part of the same organization in which he is a member. | I very proudly count myself as an industry peer and personal friend of OD O’Donnell. Douglas Heath, CAE, CM Executive President/CEO of MPI 1982-1991

7: OD is an iconic leader of the MPI DF/W Chapter and recognized EVERYWHERE. From his ties, to his "OD-Speak", no MPI D/FW Chapter experience is complete without him and he has made us all better for being so committed to MPI. Thank you for everything... | Bruce MacMillan President & CEO MPI International

9: OD is the Man, indeed an “Institution” in and of himself. He is appreciated and valued even beyond the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospitality industry, like no other. He has been every alert event planner’s secret weapon on how to look good, thanks to his willingness to share his skills, contacts and valuable suggestions. We are all the better because of his involvement in our career path toward excellence. I believe that Great people practice the art of the “Silent Victories” wherein they see a need and move to help resolve it without others even knowing of their involvement. OD O’Donnell has been a Master of such thoughtfulness all these years and so many of us are ever grateful to him. Greg Elam Solution House Consultants MPI D/FW Chapter Past President 1981-1982

10: My OD.story has to do with his involvement in my surprise 40th birthday party. He was in on the surprise (along with my partner, Joe) and as Joe and I were walking out the door of my house to attend an evening performance, he and about 40 other persons were in my front yard. After singing happy birthday, I recovered and asked them all in, but OD firmly told me I had nothing to do with being the host, that he and others had the entire evening planned. In a matter of minutes, food came out of trucks and entertainment (provided by OD) plugged in and began playing. It was a fun evening and one I will never forget, even though it was a long time ago! I wish I had a picture of the look which must have been on my face when I opened the front door! Bill Boyd, CMP, CMM, CITE Sunbelt Motivation & Travel, Inc. MPI D/FW Chapter Past President 1988-1989

11: When I joined my first committee, OD befriended and encouraged me. He told me that he would always have my back and that alone gave me the confidence to do more which ultimately led me to the presidency. OD has truly been “the wind beneath my wings” and I am forever grateful. Through the past 20 years, OD has become a friend to my family and we all love him dearly! Mary Lynn Novelli, CMP Professional Convention Management Association MPI D/FW Chapter Past President 1996-1997

12: People don't come any better or more dedicated than OD O'Donnell. Some of my most amazing chapter memories include OD, whether it was the Annual Holiday Event or a Board Retreat, I don't think of the MPI D/FW Chapter of Meeting Professionals International without thinking of the fabulous OD O'Donnell. OD, thank you! for your dedication to our chapter. You truly are one-of-a-kind! Steve Kemble America's Sassiest Lifestyle Guru PROUD former MPI D/FW Chapter President 2000-2001

13: Icon isn’t a word used often or easily, but with respect to OD O’Donnell, it’s both appropriate and deserved. You would be hard-pressed to find someone in the MPI D/FW Chapter who hasn’t been mentored, befriended and probably recruited by him. For a quarter-century he has been the face of chapter membership, commitment and involvement. But here’s a few things you probably DON’T KNOW about OD He started his business with one client: the Playboy Club, spent 10 years in the Navy as an aerial photographer and taught ballroom dancing at Arthur Murray Studios for nine years. To put it into perspective, OD O’Donnell has been having fun, dodging flak and dancing with the stars longer and better than most of us ever will. OD, THANK YOU for the many years of advice, encouragement and commitment on behalf of the MPI D/FW Chapter and its members. You pushed us when we needed it, kicked our butt when we deserved it and gave us the best example of what service and involvement should be. I’m proud to call you my friend, Steven Foster, CMP, CTA Foster + Fathom, LLC MPI D/FW Chapter Past President 1999-2000

14: Back in 2006, Bill Reeser and I won Planner of the Year and Supplier of the Year respectively and Jayna Monroe won Rising Star. OD was chairing or in charge of the Awards Gala. Not sure exactly what his title was. But, he did the script and had everything down to the second in timing. Well, Bill and I were doing our presenting and went off script slightly and momentarily reversed the order of the Planner and Supplier Awards description. Not intentionally, but something happened and it just went that way. Bill and I played off each other and it worked really well for us and the flow of the program. We didn’t give out the awards in the wrong order, just changed the script around a little to fit “the moment.” But, we could both see OD in the back of the room go ballistic and start to run toward the stage. We both just continued with our ad lib but my stomach just jumped and I thought he was going to stop the show. Just short of running down the center aisle, OD stopped and let us proceed. We continued and did the awards in the proper order when it was actually time to present them, but for those few minutes I thought we would have a new tradition of tackling the presenters on the stage. We all survived...There are many other times I could thank OD for wonderful ideas, implementation of programs, keeping our history alive, our Past President get-togethers and just being a great believer of MPI. Colleen A. Rickenbacher, CMP, CSEP, CPC, CTA Colleen Rickenbacher, Inc. MPI D/FW Chapter Past President 1998-1999

16: When anyone asks me to name a few of our chapter’s greatest strengths, one of the first things I think of is a person - probably our most valued member, OD O’Donnell. Chapter historian, chief membership “mover and shaker”, mentor to many and friend to all, OD is the one constant the MPI D/FW Chapter has. His complete dedication to our chapter goals and growth is one of the reasons we have achieved so much over the years. While we’ve had many great leaders, in my mind one person stands out as the best possible example of true commitment and sincere love for all that is MPI D/FW. OD will do anything he’s asked to do and does it with typical OD “flair”. There is no chapter statistic that escapes him and he keeps us on our toes better than anyone else I know. Over the years, his memorable greeting “Hello, Guys and Dolls” has become the official chapter welcome. Having served on many committees with OD, as well as on the Board of Directors, I’ve seen firsthand what OD is capable of. No one can question that he’s been instrumental in finding and encouraging new members for MPI D/FW and he has the awards to prove it. I can’t remember when anyone else has orchestrated our “New Member” sessions at each chapter meeting. He loves talking about our chapter and his enthusiasm is contagious. He’s taken on so many “special projects” over the years that I’ve completely lost count of them.

17: Truth is, almost anything that happens in the MPI/DFW Chapter, OD has touched at some point. He has the ability to get us involved even when we don’t think we have another moment to spare. With a bit of encouragement, in that endearing way that only OD has, he helps us “see the light” and find the time to get involved. Not surprisingly, we always end up thanking him for it. He’s just able to bring out the best in each of us. It’s really hard to express my admiration and appreciation of all that our dear friend, OD O’Donnell, has done in support of our chapter and its membership – there’s just no word or phrase big enough. I can only say that he’s been a dear friend, mentor and role model for me and I’ll be forever grateful to him for truly enriching my MPI DFW experience. Thank you, OD, for being the “touchstone” for all of us MPI D/FW "Guys and Dolls". With love and gratitude, Diane Smith, CMP CMM Global Meeting Concepts,Inc. MPI D/FW Chapter Past President 1994-1995

18: One of the best things about OD is his dedication to the chapter; one of the worst things about OD is his dedication. There has always been a love/hate relationship with OD because he can be so adamant but that's what you got to love about him. One of the best "OD-Ism's ever: "Pick the people to be on your team who you will want to go into battle with." When I was elected President, those were the words of wisdom he gave me which have stuck to this day. He is right because when you are selecting your teams regardless of the circumstance, keep in mind who do you want on your side if you have to go into battle? That says it all. The photo is so appropriate because these are the favorite men in my life and what better place to highlight OD's teachings than at the World War II Museum in New Orleans. He is a warrior with a big heart and it shows... | Betty Garrett, CMP Garrett Speakers International MPI D/FW Chapter Past President 2001-2002

20: I had the honor of mentoring OD's daughter when she first joined MPI D/FW and before her marriage and family. I love that OD is close to his grandchildren and always whips out the photos every time I see him. He's a sweet and precious man who has not only impacted the MPI D/FW Chapter through the years, he's also impacted many of us in the chapter personally and professionally by sharing his wisdom and advice...whether you want it or not! I love you, Mr. O'Donnell! Erin Donohue Omni Hotels

21: FUN FACT Elizabeth Chandler follows OD as VP of Membership. Stressful and wonderful as many of you can imagine, if you know OD. ...Was the wonderful time when he made me his version of a martini during the board retreat? Or was it when he called me during a vacation to warn me that the membership directory was not to his satisfaction?... The Suzi Fiveash Recruiting Award can not be mentioned without the name of OD O'Donnell. I'm grateful to be along side OD O'Donnell during my journey in this award winning MPI D/FW Chapter. There have been many wonderful times of encouragement, Chapter historical instruction and sharing of grand baby pictures. Our Chapter is who it is because of the life long dedication of the one the only OD! With Appreciation, Elizabeth Chandler The Meadows Foundation

22: OUTSTANDINGLY DEVOTED O'DONNELL Through MPI I had the good fortune of meeting, getting to know and becoming a friend of OD O'Donnell and for me an Outstandingly Devoted person. One of our first times to work together was in planning and executing the first MPI D/FW Chapter Awards Gala in 1989 along with Phyllis Firebaugh Craig, CMP. OD arranged all the entertainment for the evening. This event, held in the Grand Ballroom at the Anatole, helped our chapter win the Chapter of the Year for Bill Boyd's year as President. As part of the effort, OD arranged for a room at the Anatole so we could change from the set-up clothes into tuxedos. And from that time forward, it was our joke to ask who was bringing the after shave lotion. Over the years OD and I served on the Board of Directors and several committees, especially the Program Committee. We did plan several of the early Awards Galas along with other monthly programs, though I believe OD has chaired many more than me through the years. Membership has been OD's passion and he has won the annual recruiting award for bringing in the most members. As many folks know, he is responsible to the starting the awarding of the annual recognition service pins. And lastly, it is because of OD's efforts that I am one of the few current MPI D/FW Chapter Life Members. Hopefully, more will follow. OD deserves this designation now. On a personal note, I always enjoyed visiting with the WWII Hero OD O'Donnell having served in the Navy as an aerial photographer. He was flown in a single engine unarmed airplane so he could photograph the results of bombing runs over enemy territory. It is my pleasure to see my friend OD O'Donnell recognized for being so Outstandingly Devoted to MPI and our Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter. David Gisler

24: OD is a rare combination of creativity, warmth and personality-plus. I recall numerous chapter events working with OD and his steady leadership to make sure every detail was handled flawlessly and, for the most part, it always happened the way we planned it. For his friendship, dedication to the MPI D/FW Chapter and his ability to make it always interesting, I’ll always be an OD fan! | Bob Walker Senior VP Events Freeman

25: OD is “Mr. MPI” in my book. There is no one I can think of that has given of himself to help our Chapter in every aspect more than OD O’Donnell. His dedication and commitment to excellence is unparalleled. When I was President of the MPI D/FW Chapter, OD was always willing to help and he served on many committees. He’s won the award for bringing in the most members each month for as long as I can remember. When you arrive at any event, if you’re not greeted with OD standing near the door, he’ll soon find you. He stands out among the members. He enjoys dressing in his tux, and his smile always makes you smile. He has kept the Past Presidents of the MPI D/FW Chapter involved and in touch by coordinating meetings, which all of us truly enjoy. I love you, OD, and thank you for all you have done... | Mary Cowart-Huizinga RMCN Credit Services, Inc. MPI D/FW Chapter Past President 1992-1993

27: Prior to starting my term as President, conversation took place as to the different Departments that OD is involved in, and the many hats that he wears within the Chapter. Well, it was a relatively easy decision to put him in charge of the one group that he has the most passion for...the Past Presidents. When I approached OD, I can clearly remember his face lighting up, as he would have the opportunity to work with all his dearest friends, the one group out of many that know him well, that respect him, and the one group that he respects more that any other. "Will you be the liaison to the Past President's", and in true OD style, the obvious response, "You know, I know these Presidents and have worked with them for many many years, some of the best ideas came from these Presidents, and they did it right!"...I know, OD. And there you go! I watched this man once again become passionate with his best friends, and I am so proud of all the contributions he made during my term, and kept making before and will keep making years after Lauren Dunnaway's term. Thanks OD! Jesh Batra Hyatt Regency DFW MPI D/FW Chapter Past President 2010-2011

28: MPI D/FW Chapter 30 Year Anniversary Past Presidents Reception 2007

30: In the early days of the Chapter, the Board of Directors was small and one small committee planned and implemented all the meetings and events. I served as the “Program Committee” Chair for several years and OD was a member – I seem to remember he was on the Committee even before he became a member, but he jumped right in and begin to make contributions to the Chapter immediately. Membership requirements were strictly enforced back then – “Suppliers” (must sell a product or service to the meetings industry) could not be a member unless they joined with a “Planner” (must be employed full-time by a Corporation or Association as their “meeting planner”) and since suppliers outnumbered the planners, sometimes it took a while for a supplier to recruit a planner to be matched with. Our Committee was small and included Debbie Draper, Phyllis Firebaugh, Mary Jo Malone, Fred Knieberg and OD. We met often and always during the “cocktail hour” so we usually had a great time (but also got a lot accomplished!). The December Holiday Event was the highlight of the year and a majority of the members came, brought a spouse or date and danced the night away to fabulous entertainment provided by OD. OD also became a great membership recruiter and ambassador for MPI. He made a point of welcoming everyone and keeping up with all the members and their renewal dates, changes of employment/address, etc. When you needed information or a “memory jog”, OD has always been the one to contact – and if in later years you emailed him, you could be assured of receiving a quick return telephone call – which was refreshing in this age of technology.

31: I also had the pleasure of working with OD in HSMA, DFWAE and Love for Kids for many years. I knew I could call him if any event needed “reasonable” or donated entertainment -feeling confident he would come through – even if my request was at the last minute. During my long career in the hospitality and meetings industry, I often worked with OD to find great entertainment for the MANY conferences I planned. He always found a magician, comedian, trio, banjo band, mariachis, etc. with a fee that fit within my budget – wherever the event was being held. He never let me down. OD has been a loyal friend to John and me for MANY years. I don’t know that I have ever really told him what his friendship has meant to us. He is an amazing man with a huge heart – one who NEVER minds telling you “how the cow ate the cabbage” but through the years he has more often been right than wrong! | I love you, OD and congratulate you on such a rich and rewarding career. Suzie Oliver Challenge Management

32: What can I say about my dear friend OD O’Donnell... No one, in the history of the MPI D/FW Chapter has ever recruited more members for our chapter. He is the most dedicated member of our organization, serving on every committee at least once and on the membership committee for over 20 years. He has greeted each and every person at every chapter meeting with a smile on his face and friendship in his heart. He is the ONLY historian our chapter has ever had and we are all so very grateful for his dedication to this thankless job. He knows the entertainment business better than anyone and whatever you need for an event, he can find it for you. He has donated more of his time and talent to our chapter than any other member of the MPI D/FW Chapter. He was the first person I met when I attended my first chapter meeting and he supported me when I became president of the MPI D/FW Chapter in 1990/1991. He has remained a close friend to me for over 25 years and he deserves to be recognized for all he has done for the MPI D/FW Chapter. Love and friendship always, Judy Love Rondeau Love-Rondeau Group, Inc. MPI D/FW Chapter Past President 1990-1991

33: OD’s favorite story to tell about me is the time I asked him if he thought men would be willing to dress in tuxedos for a formal Awards Gala completing Bill Boyd’s presidency. He laughingly said he might not be the person to ask since he owns a whole closet of tuxedos from his days with the Playboy Club and booking entertainment all over Dallas! My favorite part is that not only was he willing to dress in tuxedo but to provide us with a full symphony for the event! Unfortunately, there wasn’t any room in the ballroom for them, but he has always gone above and beyond in every endeavor! When I was President, we made up awards to give him because he’d already received everything we awarded!! However, whether he’s recruiting new members, greeting at the meetings, chairing or serving on a committee, planning a special event, serving as historian, he always brings it all to the table!! Many of our leaders have been mentored and encouraged by OD to take leadership roles and in his own inimitable style, he keeps traditions going and builds on them to make the MPI D/FW Chapter one of the strongest chapters in the entire country! | I am so proud that we're honoring you, OD, one of our most outstanding chapter members!! Phyllis Firebaugh Craig MPI D/FW Chapter Past President 1995-1996

34: Congratulations to my favorite curmudgeon! Another milestone...Reminiscent of that milestone where Suzie Oliver and I actually surprised the dickens out of you on your 80th birthday! Just one of a million OD stories in my repertoire of 22 years of memories... Everyone showed up to honor you. Even your brother and sister-in-law preachers! Remember when I first met your brother? I asked him, " Wow! OD has a preacher for a brother. How crazy is that?" and he answered, "Do you KNOW OD? Have you ever TALKED to OD?" and I said, "Of course!"... And he said, "And he hasn't preached to you? " I laughed. He said, " It runs in the family...." Your birthday was special. You've dedicated a good portion of those 80 years to MPI. To preaching it's gospel. Sometimes over- preaching it, as many of us can attest to at one time or another. But you are still our favorite curmudgeon and we love you. No one cares more about MPI than you do. Congratulations, my friend. Sue Fry Home Page TX

36: "Heard it through the Grapevine"... OD O'Donnell is SPECIAL! For several years, I had the privilege of being one of the contributors of this successful column, which OD originated for the chapter's "Current" newsletter. Remembering so many monthly programs for which I was a member on OD's team, it's very timely to mention the 1998 and 1999 Holiday Galas at Southfork Ranch since the Ewings are back in town! With OD's high level of creativity, the 1999 Gala was described by most in attendance as the VERY BEST Holiday Gala ever in the history of the chapter. OD, with a 1998 and 1999 souvenir champagne flute in each hand... I salute you! "Dallas", the television show has J.R. Ewing...but MPI D/FW and all of your dear friends have OD O'Donnell! Love you, OD! Your Friend, Leah Belasco

38: OD O’Donnell sums up in these short words to me – he is a walking resource! If you want to know something, just ask OD. My first committee in MPI D/FW, after joining the chapter in the early 90’s, was OD’s membership committee. He showed us how to work hard, accomplish great things and how to come together as a bonded group. Remembering fondly those meetings at the Kempinski followed by dancing at Kempis’s – what a way to work! Our group stayed together socially for talkative evenings at Café Madrid, crazy flashlight dancing and my son remembers OD fondly for a fabulous evening watching the Flying Wallendas. I owe my continued committee work in MPI and my recent induction onto the MPI Texas Hill Country Chapter board of directors to my friend, OD! | OD has definitely been a huge influence and certainly a cheerleader and motivator in regards to my involvement and passion for the MPI D/FW Chapter! He never misses a meeting unless absolutely necessary and he's always been most generous with his time, his heart and his contributions to the chapter. You can always count on OD whenever you had a question regarding anything to do with our chapter. What an amazing leader and mentor; you are loved by all! | I love you, OD! Michelle Carter, CMP, CHSP Gaylord Hotels | With great love for you, Karen Fogle, CMP, CTA Plano CVB

39: Thank you OD for your commitment and compassion to MPI D/FW Chapter! You have served as a mentor to many over the years. When I think of you OD, I think of one of your trademark phrases “surround yourself with those you’d take to war with you”. Oh how I’ve used this phrase often in both my professional and personal experiences and I think of you every time I say it! I smile as I reflect on the many years you have congratulated members with Membership Awards... Now it’s your turn OD, our friend! Congratulations on what is most deserved!! Celebrate and Enjoy! Anna Squire | I have the highest respect and appreciation for OD O’Donnell. He is one of those great people from a generation that protected our country during WWll. And here he is today still going strong helping protect the MPI D/FW Chapter. He wants only the best for the chapter and for everyone involved. He works circles around those who are one-third his age. When he says he is going to do something-You can take it to the bank. When he is given a project-He chooses those people that he would go to war with–When he needs help, he asks for it and always gets the job done. There is not one thing he would not do for our chapter. He captures the spirit of what MPI is all about. Young people: Pay attention to what OD says! Lots of wisdom in his words. I love OD O’Donnell and thank him for what he has done for all of us. Bob Phillips Visit Addison

40: I came to know OD , as many did, early in my MPI career. Meeting Planners International, as it was known then, was housed at the Infomart. Betty Garrett, then a staff member at MPI and a family friend, had introduced me to MPI in 1988. My involvement did not take the form of service until Paige Garrett one day said we need you on the Governmental Affairs. From there my path formally crossed with OD. Through the years and especially based on my involvement with the board and early on with the Kids Charity Ball, OD and I shared many experiences. One memory comes to mind, the logo for the Kids Charity Ball was a Teddy Bear (thanks to Mary Lynn Novelli) and OD and Peg Wolschon had the great idea to buy a human size Teddy Bear costume that would be used to sell raffle tickets at all the MPI D/FW Chapter events. Luckily we always found a chapter volunteer and then students at Richland to wear the heavy thing and sweat while raising money for the chapter. What adds to this memory is the controversy the Teddy Bear generated as some board members like Sally Goldesberry, felt the expenditure was not justified and a myth developed such that every time it was discussed the cost of the bear costume grew. Peg and I still laugh about it. True to OD, he was our champion on providing data on how the bear costume had made the chapter money and more than paid for itself. Now, according to OD, the bear costume was lost. However, I suspect he still has it and wears it from time to time for old time sake... OD, please free the bear costume! Another little something that many folks may not recall is that OD dated my mother, Phyllis. Yes, OD could have been my stepfather! OD, as gruff as he can be, was the perfect gentleman about asking my mother out. We were all at the Anatole (then the Wyndham) at the Crocodile Lounge dancing the night away, not sure why we were there as a chapter, perhaps the post GALA party that year. Everyone from the gang was there...Steve Kemble, Mary Lynn Novelli, Michelle Carter, Phyllis Firebaugh, Diane Smith, Bill Boyd, Melissa Parks, Linda and Ken Thornton, etc as I remember these in particular as they all called me the day after to discuss OD dating my mother.

41: What impressed me is that OD came to me to ask my permission to ask my mother out. As my father had died a year earlier, it was still sensitive to me and I appreciated OD asking me. Mother and OD had great times as my mother still remembers how much fun they had as both OD and my mother liked to go out and dance. As we honor OD, I am flooded with many memories...His time as Eisenhower’s photographer during the Second World War, the time he fell out of a helicopter on top of the building that used to house the Playboy Club, Heather his daughter’s wedding, at which I caught the bouquet, his service to the chapter and me as President when Tamara Quilty fainted on stage during my remarks and Steve Kemble yelled “Ms. Michigan has just fainted.“ OD was there during the highs and lows of my term as President (deaths of Jan Pollard and Mike Hamilton), as he has been for most of the chapter’s Presidents. OD, my sincerest appreciation for your service to MPI D/FW, MPI International and to myself. You are a legend, a landmark for the organization, and the consummate volunteer who truly understands what service means. Gregory Pynes, MPA DAVA Oncology, LP MPI D/FW Chapter Past President 1997-1998

42: I have known OD as long as I have been a member, over 20 years. He is like my grandfather, always funny, always has an opinion about something, and always, always outspoken. I love OD. He tells it like it is and stands up for his convictions. I remember when I told him I was a vegetarian and he told me he was too, except for the chicken.. I just smiled thinking, "You do know that chicken is a meat too, right?" He gave us a scare with his heart attack some years back. I was working the American Heart Association at the time and he always gave me progress reports. It's because he has such a big and generous heart, I am sure!! He always had the chapters best interest at heart, is a loyal member of the MPI D/FW Chapter and a true advocate for the meetings industry. He always has a smile and has one of the best laughs...I hear that laugh in my mind whenever I think of OD! | Love you OD!! Dana Rhoden, CMP, CMM Veterinary Education Network

43: Back in November, 1992, I attended my first MPI D/FW Chapter meeting with my then boss and former MPI D/FW President, Judy Love Rondeau. As we entered the Malachite Ball Room at the InterContinental Hotel, which at that time was The Grand Kempinski Hotel, we ran into OD. Judy and OD were good friends and OD had been a mentor to Judy. Judy told OD that I needed to get involved right away and that I would be his newest membership committee member. I learned SO much from him that year and in the years to follow. The three most important lessons that I've learned from OD: 1) NEVER be late for one of his meetings 2) Don’t speak when someone else has the floor 3) Come prepared! Anyone who has ever been on any of OD’s committees will totally understand! As I have risen through the ranks of MPI leadership and in my career, the lessons that OD instilled upon me have served me well. Thank you OD for caring enough about me to take time to teach me such valuable lessons. I love you, Sandi Galloway Canadian Tourism Commission

44: "He'll Tell You"... As we all know, OD probably knows more about the MPI D/FW Chapter history than any other person. You can ask OD something like, “Who are the only members in the Chapter to have received both the Planner and Supplier of the Year Award? ...He’ll tell you! Ask him just about anything about the Chapter...He’ll tell you. He also has many a solution to the woes of Chapter leadership. I always get a kick out of what I call his “set-up” question, and the standard answer that follows. It goes something like this: The question: “Tony, do you know why we don’t have enough committee members right now to do all the work?” Tony: “No, OD, why is that? The standard answer: “Well, I’m fixin’ to tell you”... And the story goes on from there. OD, I love you like a brother. Thank you for mentoring me through these many years. You’re the man! Tony Cummins, CMP Planner/Consultant

46: I moved here from Los Angeles in 1985 and immediately joined the MPI D/FW Chapter as I had been a member in the Southern California Chapter. OD Is quite possibly the first and friendliest person I met. What stands out is that he won the top recruiter award every single year until he declined to accept it. I'm amazed at his unwavering passion to recruit new members for the chapter he loves and how he needs no recognition for it! | In our earlier days, OD was a key member supporting the start up of an annual charity event for the chapter, called Kids Charity Ball, which ended up supporting the Love for Kids organization. What a legacy to know that this continues to live on thanks to people like OD who saw the opportunity to make a difference in our community through the MPI D/FW Chapter. | Love you, OD! Judy Benaroche Johnson, CMP Rx Worldwide Meetings, Inc. | Mary Ellen George-Hess American Express Global Business Travel

47: I don’t remember the first time I met OD...but I am sure we must both have had martinis in our hands! We have shared many of those and a few opinions as well. I look forward to many more of both. | I have tremendous respect for OD and all that he has done for the MPI D/FW Chapter. One of the great things about OD is you always know where he stands on any issue. You may not always agree with him but I don't think there is any question that he always has the chapters' best interests at heart. I can't imagine what the MPI D/FW Chapter would be like without his contributions. If every group like MPI had at least one OD, they would be the better for it. | Wayne Wallgren WorldWide Incentives, Inc. | Jim Monroe, CMP, CSEP JC Monroe Designs

48: At my second chapter meeting, I didn’t know a soul there and stood in the corner considering a quick exit. Another member, Linda Sergeant, came over and asked me to join her table. That table included Steve Kemble and OD O’Donnell. What a great evening we had and I was totally hooked on the chapter from that night! In the years since, I’ve worked alongside—and butted heads—with OD and loved every minute of it. There is no one more dedicated to this industry and this chapter. I feel blessed to have been “under the influence” of this great man. Tracey B. Smith, CMP, CMM Senior Planners Industry Network | My first memory of OD was many years ago at a club where I was singing. I saw a distinctive gentleman in a white suit wearing gold and diamond rings. There might have even been a couple of gold chains as well! As the years went by, he continually impressed me with his dedicated service to several organizations, most of all, the MPI D/FW Chapter. OD is always ready to greet all members of MPI D/FW as they arrive at the meetings. He is synonymous with the MPI D/FW Chapter. Few people know that OD used to be a dance instructor. | O.D., when are you going to teach me the Tango? Carol Marks Carol Marks Music

49: As a 21+ year member I have been blessed to know OD. He has led me through the years and gotten me to become involved in the MPI D/FW Chapter. He inspired me to be a Board member 7+ times. One year I was determined to set a goal of recruiting more members then him. So I presented this challenge to him. I said next year (this was in 2000), I am going to recruit more members then YOU for 2001! I achieved the Suzi Fiveash Award in 2001 so we can say there was so far only one year that he did not covet this award! He is tireless in promoting new members and is passionate about MPI. Love you OD, and thank you for being my friend for the past 21 years and pushing me to be the best I can be! Stephanie Schroeder

50: I’ve been a member of the MPI D/FW Chapter for over 20 years and honestly cannot imagine where our chapter would be without OD. He has been our chapter historian, a mentor to many and I think held every position (besides President) that can be held. If there is one thing you can say about OD is that he is passionate about the MPI D/FW Chapter. He has given countless hours to the service of others and never once asked for something in return. OD believes in giving more than getting. I always look forward to your colorful tuxedos at the MPI D/FW Chapter Events. You standing there with a big smile on your face makes everyone feel welcome. Thank you OD. Pat McCain, CMP Palace Resorts

51: 20+ years ago, I am a new member to MPI and sent to WEC in Las Vegas...and did not know a soul. I went to the evening welcome reception trying to look not too lost in the mass of people with my “New Member” ribbon hanging from my name badge. Then someone stops me and says “Oh, I see you are a new member from Dallas. Can I introduce you to some fellow chapter members? My name is OD.” Not knowing what he meant by “Odie” started a long conversation and some great introductions to many people who have become friends, clients and colleagues. Still to this day, I owe a big thank you to OD for my beginning experiences in MPI. He has been a mentor and a friend for many years. OD – Thank you and I love you! | Peg Wolschon, CMP, CTA Wynne Motorcoaches, LLC

53: 20 Years Ago, I met OD. He approached me as a new member at a program and introduced me to people immediately. He recommended I get on a committee and since he was VP of Membership, he recommended Membership. Of course, he was on Programs, too, and so he convinced me to be on that committee as well as Richland College, Annual Yearbook, Charity Ball and every possible committee throughout the years. He was on all of them! What I cherish the most are our post meetings with cocktails, networking, dancing and becoming friends with my professional peers, many of whom I hired for my programs. OD footed the bill for many of those evenings himself. Those were the good ‘ole days and all thanks to OD and his amazing talent for bringing people together to work, play, become friends and then trust each other enough to do business together. Once, he recommended I be in a Membership skit and play the “New Member” . He managed to get me on stage when I'd never performed before. Then, he got me on the board quickly and of course, he told me to stay on the board for a number of years. Whatever OD recommends, somehow you do it. I trusted OD so much that I also had him handle all of my client entertainment needs. He took on being our chapter Historian (that no one had ever even thought of), has kept the large President's photos somewhere for all of these years, has tracked everyones Membership for annual pins along with more MPI work for our chapter and International than anyone can possibly know benefiting all of us for the past 30 years or more. There is no one like OD with so much heart, always giving to the MPI D/FW Chaper without expecting reciprocation. No one deserves this tribute more than OD and I am proud to be one of OD’s dear friends after all of these years. All my love and thanks to you, OD. You will always be my knight in shining armor! Sherri Cook, CMP, CMM Sherri Cook & Associates

54: What can I say about a man that devotes his life to family, friends and every industry organization there is. He is the resource, the rock and the pulse of many chapters and especially the MPI D/FW Chapter. The first time I met OD, he called me “Juicy Brucey” and it has stuck all these years. And, you know what? I like it. Nobody else calls me that. OD got me involved in the phone tree and I have been involved in the MPI D/FW Chapter for over 17 years. WOW what a ride. The pilot “OD” has charted a course and he sets sail every morning to spread cheer, love, faith, commitment to everyone he talks to. He's helped guide so many individuals over the years, I cannot count them all. Some have taken his advice and run with it and some have just run! OD seeks the best in people and asks no more. Just get involved, be good at what you do and keep the faith, keep the chapter alive and keep on helping others all day, every day. My hat is off to you Mr. OD and thank you for being a trusted mentor, guidance counselor and being there with a handshake, a smile and confidence to help me be a better member and a better person. | Congrats...YOU ARE THE MAN! With much respect, "Juicy Brucey" Bruce Wolpert, CMP Hotel Madeline Telluride and Inn at Lost Creek

55: "Listen, Kiddo" That's a trademark OD comment I've been hearing since I joined the MPI D/FW Chapter in 1996. I never knew if the next comment out of his mouth was going to inspire or shock me! OD is an elegant classic...As "old-school" as they come. He immediately reminded me of my parents when we met, so we clicked from the start. OD. was one of my earliest mentors when I joined the chapter and whenever he could get my ear (the good one!), he'd mesmerize me with epic stories about the MPI D/FW Chapter...always with a lesson to learn to help me progress as a leader in the chapter and always with an introduction of endorsement to other chapter leaders. Over the years, he's demonstrated integrity, honor, loyalty, conviction and compassion; all traits that he lives by and expects from others. Can OD be a grumpy old man at times? You betcha...but he's earned the privilege to tell it like it is (in his opinion!). You may as well just enjoy the bantering: Listen, laugh and respond thoughtfully because you're never gonna win! "Listen, OD" You're a remarkable man and the impact of the wisdom you've shared through the years with so many "apt pupils" in our chapter is evidenced by the number of members you've groomed who developed into successful leaders and superstars! I love you, mister! Patty Stern, CMP DMM Group Communications

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Patty Stern
  • By: Patty S.
  • Joined: over 5 years ago
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About This Mixbook

  • Title: Tribute to O.D. O'Donnell
  • This coffee table book was created as a tribute to OD O'Donnell, our most precious resource in the MPI D/FW Chapter. The book was presented to him on June 29, 2012 at the MPI D/FW Annual Awards Dinner by 2012-2013 Chapter President Lauren Dunnaway, CTA.
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  • Published: over 4 years ago

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