OBITUARY: Thomas Maurice O’Dell Passes Away at Age 88 in Cape Canaveral
By Space Coast Daily // November 6, 2021
Godspeed Captain O'Dell
Joined Pan Am in 1964 where he rose to the rank of captain and flew many thousands of miles to destinations around the globe.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Tom O’Dell passed away on August 26, 2021, in Cape Canaveral, Florida at the age of 88.
Born on September 18, 1932, in Brooklyn, New York to Maurice O’Dell and Catherine Schiavo O’Dell, Tom lived a full and eventful life, which took him across the U.S. and around the world.
Tom is survived by his siblings Patricia Miller; Gene O’Dell and sister-in-law, Liz O’Dell; his former wives, Lidia Rivero O’Dell and Tracy Maxfield O’Dell; his three children with Lidia (Lidia O’Dell Jr., Michael O’Dell & Carolina O’Dell); and two sons with Tracy (Nicholas O’Dell & Damian Michael O’Dell).
A devoted baseball fan since early childhood, he parlayed his love of the game and skill as a pitcher into a spot on the New York Giants spring training team in Viera, Florida while in his early 20s.
Like many of his generation, Tom answered the call from his country and from 1954-1955 served with the Army in Korea as that conflict neared its end.
Tom’s lifelong passion for aviation and his adventurous spirit led him to Liberia, Africa as a young pilot in the early 1960s where he operated small aircraft and helicopters. It was in Liberia that he met his first wife, Lidia, a professional Flamenco artist from Madrid, Spain.
Upon the couple’s return to the U.S., Tom joined Mohawk Airlines as a commercial pilot from 1963-1964. The unquestionable highlight of his aviation career was joining Pan Am in 1964, where he rose to the rank of captain and flew many thousands of miles to destinations around the globe.
Tom relocated from New York to Florida and served the iconic airline with immense pride and loyalty, staying with Pan Am until it ceased operations in 1991.
Following the dissolution of Pan Am and end of his marriage to Lidia, Tom moved to Nevada where he helped train a new generation of pilots as a ground instructor for Scenic Airlines. He went on to marry Tracy, a former Pam Am flight attendant, and they later settled in Idaho to raise their young family.
Tom was quietly self-assured, resilient and determined with strong convictions and a dry sense of humor. He was entrepreneurial, and during and after his flying career established and operated a number of small businesses.
He shared his enduring enthusiasm for flight with those around him, purchasing a 1966 Cessna 150, which he used to teach family and friends to fly from Merritt Island airport in Florida.
In retirement, Tom returned to Florida where he enjoyed the year-round warm weather, walking on the beach, and relaxing on his patio with a fine Scotch whiskey and a good book.
He was an avid aviation memorabilia and coin collector and maintained an interest in events unfolding on the national and international stage well into his later years.
For his final journey, we wish Tom blue skies and tailwinds; Godspeed Captain O’Dell.