Life of Ran O’Dell, 41, to be celebrated this eveningTop Highlights, Breaking News Monday, August 27th, 2012
BY THOM SENZEE
The tragic, untimely death of Ran O’Dell, a man widely known for an unrelenting commitment to making sure those with whom he interacted – whether it was in one of his roles as a bartender, server, pop-video mix-master, or passing acquaintance – experienced at least one positive, happy or even joyful moment during their day, will be recognized this afternoon and evening (Monday, Aug. 27) during two events. One event is a solemn viewing at Goodbody Mortuary; the other is planned as a gathering of those who knew and loved O’Dell, celebrating his 41 years on earth at Martini’s Above Fourth.
O’Dell’s lifeless body was found in his roommate’s car in the parking lot of an apartment complex near Sharp Hospital one week ago. He is survived by his mother, who lives in Connecticut and his father, a Houston resident. He has several siblings, including a sister named Lisa, who also lives in Connecticut.
“I returned from a weekend in Palm Springs and Ran wasn’t home,” said Chuck Lyons, O’Dell’s roommate for the past year and-a-half. “My vehicle was gone; he had borrowed it. I texted him a few times; called and only got his voicemail. I thought, ‘that’s strange;’ But I thought, maybe his phone is dead and he doesn’t have his charger. Maybe he fell asleep. So, I decided to just wait it out till the next morning. If I still hadn’t heard from him by then, then I would take it to the next level; you know contact authorities.”
Later that day, Monday, Aug. 20, Lyons didn’t have to contact anyone. Local authorities had already contacted O’Dell’s father in Houston.
“He called me and said he had been contacted by authorities here in San Diego; and Ran had been found in my vehicle, deceased.”
Speaking by phone through partially stifled weeping as he recalled the events of last Monday, Lyons said he was shocked by the news, and very surprised by the apparent cause of death, which his close friend of six years had suffered. Although the medical examiner’s official findings have not been released, toxicology results pending, early indicators point to an accidental overdose of drugs.
“The way I would describe Ran is that he is someone who loved his friends; loved his customers; loved people – loved being with people,” the deceased’s previous roommate and best friend of six years, Marisa Schumacher told LGBT Weekly. “Once, when Ran was working as a bartender; a friend eft her drink at the bar to go to the restroom. Ran drew a ahappy-face on her drink napkin. He would do that or leave a little words-of-wisdom or encouragement under her glass when she wasn’t looking. He was thinking about people and his customers even while they weren’t in front of him. He was just Ran.”
According to Schumacher, O’Dell had a child-like wonder about the world and loved to learn and play.
“He loved practical jokes, puzzles, riddles and word games; he especially loved creating acronyms and challenging people to decipher them. He also loved helping people, animals and the environment.”
O’Dell’s reputation as a memorable “people person” held true even in the aftermath of his passing.
“Someone at the mortuary saw his name and asked Lyons, ‘hey, was he that guy who was always really happy and cheerful – the guy who used to work at Bourbon Street?'”
Indeed, he was.
In addition to Bourbon Street, where Ran O’Dell was a longtime, and according to those who knew him, beloved employee; he was also a popular bartender, waiter and video editor-VeeJay at Martini’s Above Fourth, Hula’s (a once-popular Hillcrest watering hole at the site where Fiesta Cantina is now located), and Cheers. Most recently, he was a managerat Cafe de Luz, a vegan/vegetarian eatery in North Park.
“Ran was a vegan ninety percent of the time,” Lyons said. O’Dell’s interest in social-consciousness and healthy eating makes the nature of his death all the more perplexing to those who knew him.
A funeral service and memorial will be held later this week in Houston. Those interested in details of services in Texas for Ran O’Dell can contact LGBT Weekly for more information at editor@LGBTweekly.com.
Goodbody Mortuary is located at 5027 El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego. The phone number is (619) 582-1700. Viewing is from 3-8 p.m., Monday, August 27.
The celebration of life for Ran O’Dell at Martini’s Above Fourth (3940 4th Avenue; (619) 400-4500) will begin at 6 p.m. and continue until closing.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to express condolences may make donations in memory of Ran O’Dell to Development in Gardening (DIG), an HIV/AIDS advocacy group that promotes community gardens throughout the world in hopes of improving the health of those living with HIV/AIDS by ensuring access to healthy foods, such as fresh-grown produce. This was a charity that was close to his heart.
“Ran was a big supporter of DIG,” Chuck Lyons said. “Alternatively, people can send donations to the Trevor Project, which Ran also loved because they support youth and runaways who were forced out of their homes by their parents because they were gay or lesbian.”
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