Editor’s note: For this year’s Black History Month, Greater Union Life Center is sponsoring banners along Woodland Boulevard in DeLand honoring 16 individuals who have made a positive impact on the city of DeLand, and Volusia County.
At the age of 91, DeLand educator and community advocate Carnetta Odom has almost been involved in too many causes to count.
Born and raised in Pensacola, Odom graduated from high school in 1949. After graduating from college in 1954, Odom moved to DeLand. Now, she’s been in the area for more than 60 years.
Odom took a job as a teacher at Orange City Elementary School, and she remembered the more than 30 years she spent as an educator fondly. She “absolutely loved it.”
“I had several grade levels,” Odom said, “but I ended up at first grade, and I taught that for many years.”
Odom worked at the Orange City school until she retired.
Outside of her teaching career, Odom helped found the Electralytes Charity Organization, and she was a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Through her work with those organizations, Odom helped found the Elizabeth R. Burgess Pavilion at DeLand Memorial Hospital and Veterans Museum. The pavilion features information and dedications to African Americans who helped make DeLand and West Volusia the areas they are today.
Nowadays, Odom is still a regular member of Greater Union First Baptist Church of DeLand.
She has two sons and five grandchildren.
Having lived in Florida for the majority of her life, Odom said being recognized by the City of DeLand and Greater Union Life Center meant a lot, especially having lived through struggles for civil rights.
“It’s an honor,” Odom said.