July 5, 1953 – March 20, 2017
Michael H. O’Donnell, 63, of Pocatello passed away at home of an apparent heart attack on Monday, March 20, 2017. Born in Escanaba, MI, Michael was the eldest son of Harold P. O’Donnell and Marlene S. Menard O’Donnell.
During the first two years of life, Michael was raised by his mother, Marlene, and his paternal grandparents, Peter and Anne O’Donnell in Escanaba while his father, Harold, served in an Army Honor Guard stationed in Germany during the Korean War. After his father returned, Michael’s family moved to Wisconsin so Harold could obtain his B.A. degree from Stout State. Degree in hand, the family moved to Alamosa, CO, where Michael and three siblings lived in a small teacherage and attended a one room school house while Michael’s father taught school and received his MA degree. Nine years later, the family moved to Olds, Alberta, Canada, where the log home and rural living suited Michael well but not his mother. Next move was to Iowa, where Michael completed his senior year of high school. He also obtained his A.A. degree at North Iowa Area Community College and met the love of his life, Jody Sue Ziesmer. They got married and graduated from Iowa State University in 1977. Michael obtained a journalism degree and his secondary education teacher’s certification.
When Jody accepted admittance to the speech-language pathology masters program at Idaho State University Michael now had the opportunity to return to the west and pursue his journalistic career. Michael’s career began as a reporter and editor on The Power County Press in American Falls, ID, where he fine-tuned his skills especially writing a weekly column entitled “Under the Influence”. He enjoyed the pace and the support of the Crompton family, who owned the paper. That developed into managing editor of the Blackfoot Morning News. Following in his father’s footsteps, he became an educator by obtaining his MA in Instructional Technology from Idaho State. His focus then became directed towards computer technical education as a computer technology instructor at Blackfoot High School. After 13 years as a secondary education teacher, the Idaho State Journal (ISJ) came calling. As life would have it, his career came full circle and he returned to journalism accepting the Journal’s offer. Although Michael retired in September of 2016 he continued to write for ISJ. During his career in journalism, Michael was twice awarded the Idaho Press Club’s best column writer and several times received the Northwest Newspaper Assoc.’s column writing awards.
But writing was not Michael’s only interest. Love of hunting began at age three when Michael’s father hoisted him onto his back to travel into the woods and mountains of Alamosa for deer and upland game birds. Later, as an adult, Michael’s hunting buddies commented on his skills as an excellent wing shot. Iowa did afford opportunities for pheasant and duck hunting, however Idaho provided more with duck, grouse, pheasants, geese and deer hunting as well as the elusive elk. Yes, Michael never did shoot an elk although his one opportunity resulted in hesitating a moment too long… and the elk was gone.
Idaho also introduced Michael to fly fishing. He did a fair amount of fishing in the Midwest lakes of Northern Pike, Walleye and Perch but fly fishing became a passion especially on the Madison and Ruby Rivers of Montana.
Michael was preceded in death by his mother, Marlene; and his father, Harold. Michael’s father passed away in September.
Michael is survived by his wife, Jody of Pocatello, his brother, Tim (Nicole) O’Donnell of Eau Claire, WI; his sisters: Mary Beth and Rosanne O’Donnell of Chippewa Falls, WI; nephews Ryan and Riley O’Donnell and their mother Maureen O’Donnell of Eau Claire, WI.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in Michael’s memory may be sent to the American Heart Association at https://donatenow.heart.org/ or Ducks Unlimited at One Waterfowl Way Memphis, TN 38120-2351 or ph. (901) 758-3825.
Memorial services were held at 1 p.m. on Monday, March 27, at Manning-Wheatley Funeral Chapel, 510 N. 12th Ave. The family met with friends one hour prior to services.
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