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Wendell Albert Odom (1920-2005)

Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, 1971-1984

Wendell Albert Odom was born June 14, 1920, the third in a family of five boys, in Apple Springs, located in Trinity County, Texas. Following his graduation from Groveton High School in 1938, he worked for the Phenix Dairy in Houston for three years. He served in the U.S. Navy for five years from 1941 to 1946, assigned to the U.S.S. Minneapolis in the Pacific theater during World War II.

Following his military service, Odom entered the University of Houston, where he completed seventy hours of pre-law courses before entering the law school in fall 1948. He earned his J.D. degree in 1951. Odom was married and had four children.

After completing law school, Odom opened a law practice in Baytown, and then moved to Galena Park in eastern Harris County, where he practiced law and served as city attorney for Galena Park and Jacinto City, and as corporation court judge of Galena Park. In 1957 Odom was appointed judge of County Court-at-Law No. 3 in Harris County. He held the position until 1961, when Gov. Price Daniel appointed him judge of the Court of Domestic Relations. He also taught criminal law at his alma mater, the University of Houston, from 1958 to 1963. He was named outstanding alumnus of the law school in 1962. In 1964, Gov. John Connally appointed him judge of Criminal District Court No. 2 of Harris County (subsequently the 176th District Court).

Gov. Preston Smith appointed Odom to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in December 1970 to fill the unexpired term of John F. Onion, Jr., who was elected to the position of presiding judge of the court in the November 1970 election. In 1972 Odom was elected to a six-year term on the court. He was elected to a second term in 1978, and served until 1984.

Following his service on the court of criminal appeals, Odom was appointed by Gov. Mark White to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, where he served for three years.

Wendell A. Odom died February 5, 2005, in Lufkin, Texas, at the age of eighty-four. His son, Wendell A. Odom, Jr., is a Houston attorney who recently represented Andrea Yates in the drowning deaths of her five children.


Wendell A. Odom, Vertical files of the Gov. Bill and Vara Daniel Center for Legal History, State Bar of Texas.

Wendell A. Odom: World War II veteran and Texas judge, Dallas Morning News, February 8, 2005.