Obituary for ECHOLS

Published in the Albuquerque Journal on Tuesday April 02, 2013

ECHOLS, ODIS L. JR. You don't become a legend without a colorful personality, an outsized ego and an instinct for making the right move at the right time. Former State Senator and veteran lobbyist, Odis Echols, had all that and then some. Odis Echols passed in Albuquerque, NM, Thursday March 28, 2013, at the age of 82 after a long and valiant battle with Dementia. Odis was born May 28, 1930. He was a native New Mexican. He grew up in Clovis, NM and would later proudly be called, "Odis from Clovis." Odis graduated from Texas Tech University in 1954 with a BS in Education. He was elected Senior Class President and was a Kappa Sigma member. His father, Odis "Pop" Echols bought KCLV Radio station in Clovis, NM. It was at that radio station where he and his father would produce music shows and promote musicians from across the country including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Glen Campbell, Faron Young and Tommy Sands. Odis had unlimited stories depicting his youth as a fun and amazing ride in the presence of so many famous people. He was elected President of the New Mexico Broadcasters Association in 1962. Odis was elected to the New Mexico State Senate from Curry County in 1966. He served ten years. During his tenure, he served as Senate Majority Whip and as Chairman of Senate Rules Committee. He was a member of Senate Finance Committee and other interim Committees. He was chosen one of America's Outstanding Legislators by Rutgers University in 1975. Odis was a maverick Legislator who worked to pass several controversial laws concerning marijuana and privacy standards. He was also an early proponent of a "bullet train" between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. In the late 70's he began lobbying and is credited with popularizing the trend of taking on multiple clients. Before he was done, his client list was the length of your arm including Bernalillo County, United New Mexico Bank, Sandia Pueblo and many others. Two of his greatest achievements in lobbying were working to help the passage of interstate banking in the mid 1980's and Indian Gaming in the early 1990's. Odis also served as Chairman of the New Mexico State Fair Board under Governor Toney Anaya. Longtime lobbyist Scott Scanland, who began his career with Echols, said Odis Echols will be remembered as a dean of the New Mexico lobbying corps who paved the way for me and many others. In his post-lobbying days, Odis encouraged his wife Millie to become a World Champion in County Western Dance and was so proud when she won in 2005. The last 15 years of his life were filled with dance competitions, dance rehearsals and music. Chip Hindi made Odis an Honorary Dance Spectator because we all knew he was a yank and cranker on the dance floor. Odis had unlimited stories and told them freely to anyone who would listen. He could talk for hours and knew a lot about many things and a little about everything. Odis was giving to so many people. He loved good food. He loved good music. He loved to see others succeed. He loved to hob-nob with the rich and famous and had a hand in bringing together talented people to eager producers. Odis was bigger than life! Pallbearers are Turner Branch, Ambassador Ed Romero, Greg Frost, Senator Les Houston, Joe O'Neil and Scott Scanland. Honorary Pallbearers are New Mexico State Senate Members; Former Governor Bill Richardson, Former Governor Gary Johnson, Former Governor Toney Anaya, Former Governor Garrey Carruthers, Former Governor Jerry Apodaca, and Former Governor Dave Cargo; New Mexico Broadcasters Association Past Presidents; The New Mexico Enchantment Dance family. He is survived by his wife, Millie Leahy. He also leaves behind a son, Dan Echols and two grandchildren, Courtney and Brandon Echols who reside in Scottsdale, Arizona. A Service will be held on Thursday, April 4, 2013, 2:00 p.m. at FRENCH - Lomas. Life Celebration gathering after funeral at Kelly's Brew Pub hosted by longtime friends Dennis and Janis Bonfontine. There will be an open microphone for everyone to share their favorite Odis stories. Please visit our online guestbook for Odis at www.FrenchFunerals.com. FRENCH - Lomas 10500 Lomas Blvd NE 505-275-3500