If you're like most people, you've never even heard of bentonite. But for NIU geologist Ira Edgar “Ed” Odom, the very fine clay material was everything. At his May 2003 funeral, his sister remembered, “Ed could weave tales about bentonite that sounded like romance novels.” His enthusiasm for studying rocks and minerals was contagious. From 1964 to 1981 he built a strong program in mineralogy at NIU while continuing to do research. His explorations took him to 29 foreign countries.
Ed's daughter Ellen Bemis remembers vacations that often resulted in side trips to see mineral deposits and outcrops. “He thought geology was a good area for students and that it didn't get enough attention.” Ellen says her father particularly loved going to field camps with the students.
In 2003, Ed committed $100,000 to establish the Ira Edgar Odom Scholarship Fund in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences. Through this gift, hundreds of young people will benefit from scholarships for field camp training and studies in mineralogy and petrology. Ed Odom's passion has created a legacy that will be “rock solid” for years to come.
Northern Illinois University has designated the NIU Foundation as the charitable organization to receive and manage all gifts on its behalf.
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