giving back

Valentine: Viola Odell is a Writer, Traveler, Mother, and Inspiration

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We have had the wonderful opportunity of being introduced to many wonderful people through our Who's Your Valentine contest. It has truly been a treat to "feel the love," so to speak, and to feature some of the winners of the contest over the past couple of weeks. They have been great people, and this week's winner—Viola Geary Odell—is no exception. A mother, author, and nature enthusiast still going strong at the age of 90, she is truly inspirational, says her daughter, Leslie Macchiarella.

Viola, affectionately called "Vi" by her friends and family members, spent her youth writing and wandering the prairies of California. She worked in radio for several years during World War II with Voice of America, and in the advertising business.

Her first published work was a short story, "Horseplay," that won two awards. A book of poetry followed, "Western Skies and Apple Pie," written mainly about her colorful grandfather. She published a book of poetry and photography, While Wandering, last year, and she is now completing her memoir, which is a series of vignettes about her life on the prairies called "Alive and Kicking!"

Her inspiring legacy also includes four successful children: Mark Odell, the youngest, an architect; Leslie, a federal enforcement attorney and author of www.BakeThisCake.com; Christine Murphy, a business consultant and photographer; and Bill Odell, a retired scientific engineer. All of her children live by her in Los Angeles, California.

Leslie said, "My mom is my favorite Valentine because she inspires so many with her campaign of encouraging families to make nature appreciation a key part of their lives. At the golden age of 90, she has just had her inspiring book published and speaks at public gatherings about John Muir and of her childhood life on the prairies in order to inspire growing families to enhance their lives through nature exploration."

Viola was inspired by her great library of books, her father, James Geary (a hardworking rancher), and her great-grandfather, John Halverson (a hard working horseman and rancher). Leslie says her mom traveled often throughout her life to Yosemite for fishing and camping with her parents and then with her own children and grew to appreciate John Muir and all of his wonderful foot travels across California.

To read more about Viola, you can visit her book's Facebook page or blog. If you have someone inspirational in your life, please tell us about them by entering them in our Valentine contest, which runs until next Wednesday, the 29th!

 Who is your special Valentine? Why are they important to you?

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