Husband, Daddy, Papa, co-worker or neighbor—Chalybeate resident Odis Cartee was recognized as a man of hard work, kindness and integrity. On Saturday, Jan. 23, while holding the hand of his wife of almost 56 years, Odis slipped from this earth to move on to greener pastures in Heaven. He was 76.
Odis was born in Madison County to Hurst and Ruby Cartee. He was raised in the Chalybeate Springs community in Lawrence County and he let everyone he met know that the Chalybeate community was his home. He enjoyed nothing more than regaling his daughters and grandchildren in stories of his days attending Chalybeate Springs School, his teachers, classmates and days on the basketball court.
A 42-year employee of Courtland’s Champion/International Paper Mill, Odis was the true definition of the “company man.” Working in the woodyard, he often had to endure both bitter cold and scorching hot temperatures, but he always reported happily to work. He proudly wore the Champion/International Paper logo on his worn, black jacket and his family was never short on stories about his adventures at the mill. His co-workers called him “Big O.” He called them family.
Odis was also a farmer. In his years toiling the soil, he raised every vegetable imaginable, including a 10-acre crop of cucumbers. He also raised pigs and cows. Odis did not know the definition of a small garden, raising enough food to feed his neighbors. His green thumb extended to long rows of Sunflowers and Zinnias that dotted his property along County Road 294.
Those who knew Odis, never left him without a sack of vegetables, a candy bar from his candy drawer or a dollar or two if needed. The old cliché’ “he would give the shirt off his back” was a mantra Odis lived by and those in the family and community knew that well.
Odis had a penchant for westerns, especially Gunsmoke and Bonanza, banana splits and pinto beans, the East Lawrence Eagles, mesh baseball hats, his son-in-laws’ Sparkman Senators basketball team, and his favorite song “I Can Help.”
Odis loved his wife, Brenda. He would often tell his daughters to “look over and see the most beautiful woman in the world.” The two raised four daughters: Bridget (55), Ronda (54), Kellye (51) and Erin (46). He instilled in his girls the value of hard work and the need to exhibit good character in both good times and bad times. He had two grandchildren, Saylor (18) and Ethan (16) who were the center of his world. He referred to them as his Sugar Bear and Little Man.
Odis is preceded in death by his parents; and his sister, Peggy Sims. He is survived by his wife; four daughters, Bridget Armstrong, Ronda Cartee, Kellye Cuzzort (Joe) and Erin Coggins (Jamie); two grandchildren; dog Ella and two granddogs and three grandcats and nieces and nephews.
Odis died from complications of COVID. To honor CDC guidelines, the family has decided to have a private, family ceremony of life. The family encourages all to wear a mask to help curb the spread and the deaths of COVID. Parkway Funeral Home assisting the family.