Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District honors late board member
July 21, 2018
Family members and friends remember Sharon O'Dell as an avid lifelong swimmer who was extremely dedicated to her family and the Snyderville Basin community.
O'Dell served as a member of the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District's administrative control board for 14 years, helping the district establish facilities such as the Ecker Hill Field Complex, Park City Aquatic Center near Ecker Hill Middle School, and Trailside Park.
But, she tragically died at the age of 62 while swimming at the Aquatic Center in October of 2015. Her husband, Tim O'Dell, said she passed away from a heart condition known as an aortic dissection. A similar congenital heart defect claimed the life of her father.
As a way to honor O'Dell's contributions to the community and her love of swimming, recreation district officials decided to place a memorial bench in the northwest corner of the pool deck outside of the Basin Fieldhouse.
More than 25 people attended a dedication ceremony on Wednesday, including staffers, friends and family members. The bench was hidden under a red cover and adorned with pictures of O'Dell with her family, as well as her swimming and hiking with their dog. Her husband Tim O'Dell and their daughter, Katie Bares, removed the cover to reveal the bench and an engraved plaque.
"This is exactly what she would want," he said. "If she had to pick something this would be it. We've lost other friends who were swimmers, and I think she would have been like, 'OK, this is what we do for our swimmers.'"
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O'Dell taught a masters swim class and even encouraged Matt Strader, recreation district fieldhouse and facilities manager, to start swimming in the late 1990s. He credited her with making him a better swimmer and inspiring him to continue the sport.
"When we decided to add a lap pool during the last phase of construction of the fieldhouse, I knew that she had to be somewhat involved," he said. "She would have loved this and would probably be here swimming today." Brian Hanton, director of the recreation district, began working with O'Dell more than 15 years ago when he joined the district as the director of summer camps. He described her as "one of those people you are fortunate to meet throughout your lifetime."
"The Snyderville Basin community was lucky to have someone as dedicated as she was to creating a better community," he said. "I am very privileged and honored to have this opportunity to have this dedication to Sharon and sharing her legacy for the generations to come. She is still here and a big part of what we do every day within our organization."
Those at the ceremony shared anecdotes about O'Dell and what it was like to work closely with her. Bonnie Park, former director of the recreation district, said when she was first hired she was told to watch O'Dell's eyebrows.
"Amanda Peterson (former board chair) told me, 'Sharon doesn't talk a lot, but just watch her eyebrows,'" she said. "'She is thinking all the time and when she has something to say it is worth hearing.' Sharon was quiet and reserved and always made her point well without a lot of pomp and circumstance."
Park said the last time she saw O'Dell was on the pool deck of the Silver Mountain Sports Club and Spa. She said O'Dell was showing her pictures of her grandchildren while talking about an upcoming trip to visit them. "She delighted in her family and we owe her so much for her years and years of public service," she said. "She is truly a citizen that should be well remembered."
Tim O'Dell said that, once their children were older, his wife took on three projects — working for the recreation district board, swimming and hiking with their dog out on the trail.
"After she raised the kids, she really wanted to do more than that and she was dedicated to everything she did," he said.