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Posted on June 30, 2013 | 8:46 p.m.

Ruth O’Donnell of Santa Barbara, 1923-2013

Source: O'Donnell Family

Ruth O’Donnell died June 22, 2013. She was born in 1923 in Redding, California, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Earnest (Irene) Dozier. She grew up in her parents’ hospital and was home-schooled through the ninth grade. She attended Shasta Union High School, Stanford University and the University of Oregon, graduating in 1946 with a B.S. in Journalism. Ruth met Harold C. “Hal” O’Donnell in 1940 when he was working at the Redding radio station.

Ruth O’Donnell worked at Santa Barbara High School and later at San Marcos High, where she founded a Career Resource Center that served as a successful model on other campuses.

In 1941, Hal joined the U.S. Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia, for officer training. In April 1944, upon his return from 18 months in the South Pacific, he and Ruth were married in San Diego. She accompanied him to Syracuse, New York, for his RADAR training and then to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to prepare for the invasion of Japan. With the war over in 1945, Hal was discharged to the Marine Reserves. He and Ruth happily drove across country to Eugene, Oregon, where Hal worked at radio station KORE while Ruth completed her degree at UO.

They moved to Petaluma, California, and then to Lodi, where their daughter was born, and, in 1948, to Fresno, where their son was born. Here the children grew up while Hal pursued his career in radio and television. Devoted to their family, they took the children camping in the mountains and desert, explored national parks, participated in school and church activities, Scouting and Indian Guides, and visited their respective families. Ruth was a PTA president for two years and a full-time homemaker until 1960, when she was employed by the Girl Scouts as a district director.

The O’Donnells moved to Santa Barbara in 1963 when Hal became manager at KEYT-TV and Ruth worked as a teacher’s aide in the English Department at Santa Barbara High School. In 1971, a new position opened at San Marcos High School to create a Career Resource Center for work with students in career planning. Ruth was chosen to develop it, and its success led to Career Centers in the other high schools, as well. Ruth earned her master’s degree in the Humanities in 1977 when she was 54. Her interest in nature and astronomy led her to be a docent for 16 years at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, where she gave tours and led planetarium programs.

Ruth and Hal retired in 1982, bought a small motor home, rented out their house and enjoyed a six-month trip around the United States and Canada. They enjoyed this life so much, they rented out their house again in 1983 and followed the fall colors from Wisconsin to the furthest tip of Texas. In the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, their independent travels took them all over the world, from Nepal to Patagonia. They also took tours in China, India and for a winter’s visit to the Soviet Union, as well as cruises through the Panama Canal and to Greece, Turkey and the Holy Land. Ruth kept journals for them all and these were a pleasure for them both to read in later years. By 1998, maintenance of their hillside home became a burden, so they moved to Vista del Monte, a retirement community. Both became very active there, Ruth serving as president of the Residents Association for two years and Hal developing a computer lab and a workable emergency response plan for residents. They developed many close friends in their 15 years at Vista del Monte.

Early in 2004, Hal was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Ruth devoted herself to his care through the years of a heart-breaking descent to Hal’s death in January 2010 after 66 years of marriage. She was preceded in death by her father and mother, sister Barbara and brother Tilden.

Ruth is survived by her daughter, Phyllis, and husband Jim Roseberry, and by her son, Dwight, and his wife Rose O’Donnell; by four grandsons and their spouses, Bryan (Sarah), Cohn (Heather), Hunter (Kelly) and Seth (Mandy); by two great-grandchildren, Paisley and Finley Roseberry; and her niece, Martha Rubin.

Ruth treasured her children, their spouses, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her family was always the focus of her life and she and Hal hosted many family gatherings. She also had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, and corresponded with many of them throughout her life.

Any memorial rememberances can be made to Doctors without Borders.

Arrangements were by McDermott-Crockett & Associates Mortuary.

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