Ody J. Fish

June 16, 1925 - Feb. 6, 2007

Ody J. Fish passed away peacefully at home surrounded by the love of his family Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2007, at age 81. He was a resident of Pewaukee.

He is survived as the beloved husband of Mary Ellen (nee Koebke) and cherished father of Sarah of Boston and Margaret (Bryant Grimes) Fish of Milwaukee. He is also survived by his nephew, Christopher, and family of Mequon. He was preceded in death by his father, Joseph; his mother, Lauretta; and his brother, Raymond.

Ody (born Odilon) was born in Sauk Centre, Minn., on June 16, 1925. He moved to Pewaukee in 1944, and worked his way up within the Pal-O-Pak Insulation Co. of Hartland, rising from foreman of one of its plants to majority stockholder by the late 1960s. He retired from Pal-O-Pak, but maintained a Hartland office until his death.

Although he never attended college, Ody was named to the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin in 1970 and was a regent for a total of 17 years, a role that was of incredible importance to him. One of his proudest moments was when he was awarded an honorary law degree from the University of Wisconsin. He was also president of the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters, and served as chair of the Governorís Commission on Schools for the 21st Century. In addition to his commitment to education, he was also committed to preserving the natural resources of the state of Wisconsin, and served on the Board of Directors for the Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation.

Of equal importance to him were his roles and activities in the Republican Party. He began his political service in 1958 when he was elected chair of the Lake Country Republican Club. He was then elected vice chairman of the Waukesha County Republican Party the following year, and from 1960 to 1965 he held the position of chair. In 1964, he chaired the successful gubernatorial campaign of Warren P. Knowles, and then was elected state chair of the Wisconsin Republican Party from 1965 to 1970. During these years, Ody was also a member of the National Republican Committee, serving on its executive committee from 1968 to 1970, along with other national and regional party committees.

In 1971, Ody resigned as state chair and was elected Republican national committeeman, becoming involved in the production and arrangements for three national conventions (1972, 1976 and 1980), and remained in this position until 1984. During his tenure, Ody declined three offers of the national chair, two from President Nixon and one from President Ford, in order to protect and maintain his family life in Pewaukee. Throughout all of his political activities, Ody was known for his abilities in overcoming the diverse elements both within the Republican Party and among those of differing political affiliations. He was known for always holding a pragmatic, moderate political philosophy, and he firmly believed in the value of political activism, honest words, moral actions and service to the state and country. To this end, he served on the board of Common Cause Wisconsin from 1998 until his death.

Above all, he was most passionate about his family, and for that, we have been forever blessed.

Memorials in Odyís name contributed to the following organizations would be greatly appreciated by the family: Common Cause Wisconsin, P.O. Box 2597, Madison, WI 53701-2597; Regional Cancer Center, Waukesha Memorial Hospital, 725 American Ave., Waukesha, WI, 53188; or Shorehaven Health Center, 1305 W. Wisconsin Ave., Oconomowoc, WI, 53066.

Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. until the 7 p.m. Mass of Christian burial Friday, Feb. 9, at Queen of Apostles Catholic Church, N35-W23401 W. Capitol Drive, City of Pewaukee. The Rev. Robert Drutowski will be officiating. Interment will be private. The family would like to invite everyone to a luncheon and fellowship at the church following the Mass.

Yonke and Son Funeral Home of Pewaukee, 691-1900, is serving the family.