Assisted Living Story Joe
The Story of our Senior Resident 'Joe Odle'
Frontline Stories from Assisted Living at Stellar Care
Written by Mai Truong

Reuben Joe Odle is a warm and friendly, happy-go-lucky sort of person. His easy laughter, inviting smile, and the cheerful spring in his step are something to strive toward. To be kind is in his nature, and to be helpful comes almost instinctively.

Joe was born May 14, 1944 and spent the earlier years of his life on a Kansas farm. His family lived in both Kansas and Colorado while he was growing up and raised hogs and cattle. After high school, Joe decided to join the Marine Corps and was stationed at Camp Pendleton. It was while in the Marine Corp that he met his wife, Mallie. One day, Joe was accompanying a friend to Montgomery Ward and was waiting for this friend to apply upstairs for a brand-new credit-card. Mallie worked at Montgomery Ward and it was a slow day at the store, so she and Joe started conversing. After a long, pleasant conversation, Joe asked Mallie on a date and she agreed on the condition that they each bring a friend along. They went out on the Coronado ferry and went to see a movie. They hit it off and got engaged, but before they could get married, Joe was sent on a military tour to Vietnam for 13 months. For over a year. Mallie awaited Joe’s return and once he was back, they married and he came back to civilian life.

Joe was able to use the GI bill to go back to college and eventually become an engineer. He obtained a job with Cal-Trans and worked with them in a variety of capacities for over forty years. He worked in the materials testing department for the materials used on bridges and in highway construction. He also helped work on the old Highway 80 and what would become the interstate 8 in Mission Valley. Joe knew highways and backroads like the back of his hand. In the 1970’s a hurricane in Baja California caused damage near San Diego and blew out bridges between El Centro and San Diego. The Odle family was traveling through that area and was advised that there was no way to San Diego until damage was cleared, but Joe’s knowledge of the backroads brought them back home safely.

In the earlier years of their marriage, in the 60’s and 70’s, Joe and Mallie spent time traveling from state to state in a van with floral curtains in the windows. When they crossed some of the southern states, police officers would, without fail, follow them until they were across state lines, stopping to eat if Joe and Mallie stopped to eat, all with the intent of making sure these two “hippies” didn’t cause any trouble. They never had any issues with the officers, and always had a nice police escort keeping them safe. Unfortunately, however, as they traveled their van would often break down, and typically not with the friendly officers nearby. They once even had to hitchhike across Texas to obtain a part needed to fix the van. Later in life, Joe and Mallie were able to trade out the van and its mechanical problems for trips on cruise ships. They began traveling outside of the United States, often with friends from church and family, including their daughter and 2 grandsons. They loved cruises and have taken the Alaska cruise, one in Australia and New Zealand, as well as a river cruise through Europe. Through all of these experiences, they saw beautiful sights and have had a grand adventure together.

When not working on making roads safe, or traveling across them, Joe enjoyed golfing, camping and riding a dune buggy through the desert. He was also always involved in the community, helping boy and girl scout troops, even guiding girl scouts down the Colorado river on trips. In addition, Joe and Mallie have enjoyed being active in a spiritual community, as longtime members of their local church. Joe was the head usher for many years and was always on hand to assist w ith anything needed. Throughout the years, Joe and Mallie built up a community and a wonderful support system through their involvement in their church and with the scouts. In times of need, this community has rallied together to show love and support to the Odles. Looking back, Joe and Mallie reflect and share the thought that they have had a good life. Joe’s days today are still very active. He enjoys going out into the community and spending time both upstairs in our 4th floor library, listening in on the latest news, and dancing in the Santa Barbara room whenever we have entertainment. We truly admire Joe’s love for life with all it has to offer and are grateful to be on his team.

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