We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at McLaughlin Mortuary
Emily Mitchell Odom was born on September 3, 1929, and left us exactly 93 years later on September 3, 2022. She often talked about the incredible changes she had seen in her life. She remembered the first electric light she ever saw, at an uncle’s house when she was a young teenager. She loved to tell how she and her brother Manley would flip the switch, then try to whirl around before the light came on. She grew up in rural Mississippi at the beginning of the Great Depression. Her father, Joel W. Mitchell, was an educator. He moved his family often as he pursued jobs in different schools. They had little money, but Emily’s mother, Gladys West Mitchell, was a talented seamstress who prided herself on keeping her 5 daughters looking pretty. Gladys was also an expert gardener and cook. She worked endlessly to keep her 7 children fed, sweating over a wood stove while Emily and the others helped by hauling water from the nearest creek. On the morning of May 21, 1951, Emily graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi. That afternoon, she married JG “Jigger” Odom, Jr. They went to Pensacola Beach for their honeymoon, where JG got so sunburned, he couldn’t bear to be touched. In spite of that painful beginning, Emily and JG were married for 61 years until he passed in 2012. Their first child, Debra Emily, was born in 1954 while JG was stationed at Keesler AFB in Biloxi. JG was sent next to a remote radar site in Japan. Emily loved her time living in a small Japanese village and had many fond memories of her Japanese neighbors. When it was time for their second child to be born, Emily had to fly on a once-a-week military medical transport to the hospital at Nagoya. Jay Alan was born in 1956. When Jay was 6 weeks old, JG separated from the Air Force and the family returned Stateside, where they soon settled on Meigs Drive in Shalimar. Three more children, Kenneth Green (1961), Gene Mitchell (1963) and Linda Anne (1964) were all born in Ft Walton Beach Hospital. The house on Meigs Drive was a great place to grow up, with many happy hours spent in the clear water of Choctawhatchee Bay. But the real fun began for Emily with the arrival of her grandchildren. Her first granddaughter, Drew, gave her the name Gina, and she has been Gina to everyone ever since. Gina thrived on being a grandmother. Nothing was more important to her than spending time with her precious little ones. When Gene’s sons Zachary and Cory were born on Guam, Gina made the long journey to be there for each of them. She made the trip several more times as the boys grew, determined to always be an integral part of their lives. When she wasn’t on Guam, she was at Linda’s house in Jacksonville with Drew and younger sister Maggie. When Jay’s boys, Spencer and Slater, were born in Destin, she was happy to have babies close to home. Ken's son Sean and his wife Karrie recently completed Gina’s world with Great-grandchildren Miles and Maya. Gina was the best grandmother and mother anyone in the world could ever have. She enfolded her family in pure love and unconditional acceptance. She encouraged everyone to follow their dreams and live their passions, even when it meant being far away. There was no one like our Gina. She was the solid center of our universe and we can’t imagine the world without her in it. Gina, we love you. The Gina shaped hole in our lives will never be filled. A memorial service for everyone will be held at Marina Cafe in Destin at 2:00 Friday, September 9, followed by a family celebration of a life well lived. Gina loved all children and grieved for those suffered. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to: Food for Thought Outreach, 174 Watercolor Way, Ste. 103 #286, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459 - AMIkids Emerald Coast, PO Box 4886, Fort Walton Beach, FL. 32549.
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