Dr. James Lowell O’Daniel

Dr. James Lowell O’Daniel

                Dr. James Lowell O’Daniel, 50, of Clinton, MS, died tragically August 3, 2019, from injuries he received after being struck by a vehicle during the 12th annual Bikes, Blues & Bayous Bike Ride in Greenwood, Mississippi.

                 Born February 18, 1969 in Cambridge, MA, Dr. O’Daniel graduated from Vergennes (Vermont) Union High School in 1986. He received his BS degree in Civil Engineering in 1990 from Cornell University and his Masters and PhD. from Penn State University in 1998. He joined the U.S. Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center the same year as a Research Structural Engineer where he continued to serve in ERDC’s Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory, performing research and development in the area of computational mechanics for blast, impact and penetration events. He was known internationally for his work and published many refereed papers in conferences and symposiums around the world.

                Jim was passionate about his work, about sailing, about running and especially about his cycling. He was known widely in the Mississippi cycling community as a fierce competitor and compassionate mentor to all who needed encouragement. Whether inspecting the depths of the Sago mine disaster, exploring the inner workings of the Golden Gate Bridge assessing terrorist vulnerabilities, navigating the access tunnels of Cheyenne Mountain, sailing the open ocean from Biloxi to the Bahamas, cycling Vermont’s mountain gaps or just doing a “century” ride (100 miles) with his buddies on a typical Saturday morning, Jim lived life to the fullest with inspired intensity.

                Previously married to Lynn Johnston of Brandon, MS, Jim is survived by her and by his mother Frances Griffis of Shelburne, VT, his father and stepmother, Michael and Susan O’Daniel of Vergennes, VT, four sisters: Cathy Fuller (Chris) of Vergennes, Nancy Zimmer (Mike) of Wilmington, MA, Sharon O’Daniel (Jason Fearon) of Vergennes, and Meghan O’Daniel of Burlington, VT.  Jim will also be fondly remembered by seven nieces and nephews: Maggie, Burke, Logan, Grey, Petra, Emma and Nick. Also sadly left behind are two faithful companions: his cat Charlie and his feisty little black dog Vader.

His fellow workers at ERDC, the cycling, running and sailing communities of Mississippi and his family and many friends in Vermont join together as one in mourning the tragic loss of a brilliant, kind and wonderful man. God speed JimO.

                Announcement of a Memorial Service planned for late August or early September in Vergennes, VT will be made at a later date. To send online condolences to his family please visit www.brownmcclayfuneralhomes.com

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Leo Spencer Turnipseed
4 years ago

Jim O’ touched so many lives for the good. His love of cycling was contagious. I’m grateful I had the chance to know him as both a customer and a cherished friend. My Deepest Condolences.-Leo

4 years ago

To the O’Daniel Family we are so very sorry for your loss, though we have never met Jim he sounds like a wonderful man who accomplished so much in his short life.
We are keeping your family in our thoughts.
❤️ Nancy Cappiello & Family

Randy & Laura Tackett
4 years ago

Laura and I would like to say Jim is a great guy. We in the cycling community loved him. His dry humor and wittiness made us laugh. Jim will be greatly missed by us all as we morn with you. The cycling community here is around 2000 strong. That’s just a glimpse of the lives he has touched besides my own.
May the LORD GOD bless you and keep you during your times of sorrow as we pray for you All .

Michael Zaremsky
4 years ago

Jim was a great guy and proud to have been his college fraternity brother at Cornell.

Gia Volterra de Saulnier
4 years ago

I’m so very sorry for your loss. Hugs and prayers sent to the family.

Gia Volterra de Saulnier
4 years ago

I’m so very sorry for your loss. Prayers sent to the family.

Ben McDonald
4 years ago

I lived in Clinton and met Jim O 7 or 8 years ago. I rode bikes with him and the Clinton Crew on the South Natchez Trace and ran with him and the Clinton Healthplex Crew. I’ve always been a slower runner and rider than Jim O (most people were too!) but he had this “it doesn’t matter” attitude when it came to how fast you were. It’s as if he had the mindset of “Just ride!” or “Just run!”
I can hear his voice in my head with that distinct northern accent of when I saw him at The Bike Crossing (or around town) he would say “How’s it goin Ben?”
Jim O leaves a big hole in the Mississippi cycling community. I mean, who’s gonna do his pulling in the pace lines now?!
I’ve been riding my bike to work every day this week with a “race number” pinned to my backpack that says “JimO” in big red letters. He was a good dude! I’m sorry to his family that you lost him too soon.

Andrea Rogers
4 years ago

Dear Fran,
How devastating to read of your son”a death and at the same time to learn of the extraordinary contributions he has made to life. I will wrap you in my arms when I see you but in the mean time you are in my prayers. Much love

4 years ago

My name is Paul Cashman. I didn’t know Jim at all. But I volunteer a lot for Cornell University,Jim’s alma mater, and I get a daily Google digest of things relating to Cornell. That’s how I came across the news of Jim’s tragic accident. I am moved to write to the family because in February 2018, one of my oldest and dearest friends, a Cornell classmate and fraternity brother, was killed in the same way — by a driver while my friend was participating in one of the long-distance bike races he loved so much. So I know the pain Jim’s family and friends are feeling, and as we say, may the memory of Jim’s life be a blessing.

Karen Dugan & family
4 years ago

Our sincere condolences to your family. With special love to Sharon, my dear old friend. We are holding you in our hearts.

Stephanie Vidrine
4 years ago

A truly gifted individual in so many ways, the world will miss him and his contributions. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and many friends.
Stephanie Vidrine and Family

Cavelti Balz
4 years ago

Jim, it was an honour working with you on several international projects, your expertise was always outstanding, but not your professional skills made you a great guy – you cared about people around you and I especially enjoyed talking to you during coffee breaks, lunches and dinner on symposia all over the world – I’ll miss you! The next ride I take with the bike in the Swiss mountains will be for you!
My sincere condolences to your family.

Mimi Pearson
4 years ago

Fran- I am so sorry. Thinking of you. Mimi from bridge.

Brown Mcclay Funeral Homes