A major void was left in the Village of Vermontville Monday, March 31 with the passing of Monte O’Dell, who lost his battle with cancer at the age of 55.

Lovingly referred to as “Mr. Vermontville,” O’Dell served the Village in a number of capacities for more than 30 years. His impact was felt in every corner of the community through his work as DPW Supervisor and his time, more 35 years, with the Vermontville Township Fire Department.

More than his professional relationships, however, O’Dell’s greatest impacts were made through his personal relationships he seemed to have with everyone.

“Everyone of us has a special memory of him,” said Mike Mater, a firefighter and EMT with the Vermontville Township Fire Department. “He was a personal friend to everyone.”

O’Dell forged those relationships early in his career, evolving into an unofficial ambassador for the community he had known since his family moved to town from California in the late 60s.

“The Village of Vermontville was a better place to live because of Monte’s involvement in the community and the countless hours he spent without expecting or seeking recognition,” said Mark Jorgensen, member of the Village Council. “Monte did this because he cared about his community. Monte’s contributions to Vermontville over the years is immeasurable.”

O’Dell began working for the Village in 1980, three years after graduating from Maple Valley High School. He started O’Dell’s Towing with his father shortly after graduation and helped run the business until 1996.

“Because of Monte’s great knowledge it never ceased to amaze me how many surrounding communities consulted with him when they were planning or working on a infrastructure project within their communities,” Jorgensen said. “Monte was the reason when Vermontville needed a little extra help or equipment the surrounding communities would line up to help Vermontville out.”

Of course, more often than not, it was O’Dell offering to lend a hand.

“He was the first to help anyone that needed it,” said Jeff Wetzel, Vermontville Township Fire Department captain. “If you said you needed a hand, he was there every time.”

His good-natured personality allowed him to juggle many different hats and still find time to lend a hand to those in need. It was something that came naturally to him, Wetzel said. Despite being so busy, O’Dell never let show the stress of having so much responsibility, which made a him a leader everyone was eager to follow.

“He knew how to treat people and make them feel special,” said Kurt Willis, firefighter and EMT.

“He would go above and beyond in everything he did,” said Barry Byington, firefighter.Monte ODell