Betty Odell, A Local Role Model

Betty Odell, former Guildhall Town Clerk

Elizabeth (Hubbard) Odell passed away last weekend, on May 13, at the age of 94. Her funeral and burial service were held today, and there was a reception for her at the historic Guild Hall here in town.

By the time I arrived in Guildhall 7 years ago, Mrs. Odell had already retired and moved to Lancaster, NH. So I’ve never actually met her. But from the moment I became Town Clerk, I was aware of her virtual legendary status.  I had many opportunities in my then-job as Guildhall Town Clerk to reflect on Mrs. Odell’s character and her competence, because she was a predecessor of mine. She was the Guildhall Town Clerk from 1971 to 1990 and for part of that time, served as Town Treasurer, as well.

There were many occasions when I’d be deep in land records research or recording, only to stumble across the work of Mrs. Odell. She was meticulous and utterly professional in everything she did, and left the Guildhall Land Records and vital statistics in extraordinarily good shape at the end of her tenure.

Many of my friends and neighbors in town talk about how hard Betty worked and how painstaking she was in her recordkeeping. In a very short time, I came to understand that she was a hard act to follow, both as Town Clerk and Treasurer. Whenever I had a recordkeeping challenge, I’d often smile and ask myself what Betty Odell would do.

As I learned more about Mrs. Odell, my admiration only increased For her time, she was an extraordinarily independent, professional woman.

After graduating from high school, she had the guts and courage to move to Massachusetts on her own, without being married. She got herself an education, taught school and carved out work and career for herself. She didn’t marry until she was in her late 30s.    When she married, she became a mom.  During her life, she managed to effectively balance  both career and family.

She came back to Guildhall in the early 1970s, to help her mom at the Old Crawford Homestead. And she devoted herself to her sister Helen Boswell.

Rest in peace, Betty Odell. We remember and admire you.

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