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Odelia Ott Rabel

This tribute was written by Carroll Rabel, Sr. and read by Carroll Rabel, Jr. at
Odelia’s 100th Birthday Celebration, March 15, 2009

Odelia Josephine Ott Rabel was born March 15, 1909 in String Prairie, Texas to Emil J. Ott Sr. and Mary Waneck Ott. She was born in the farm house Emil Ott built with no labor cost. He and his buddies drank $800 of whiskey building the house. Not many doors or windows were square. Odelia was the oldest of three children. She had one brother, Emil (Bill) Ott Jr. and one sister, Agatha Ott Frerich.

Odelia attended school at St. Mary’s until it was destroyed by fire. She then went to public school where the String Prairie Community Center is today. It was a one room school. There was a big rivalry between upper country and lower country students. Upper country was all the students that lived south towards the Caldwell County line. Lower country students were those who lived north towards Rosanky. Many scraps occurred between the two groups. Odelia’s son would attend the same one room school house for five years until it closed in 1957.

Education was not the primary goal of the German people of that era. Odelia completed six grades but always desired to have more. She wanted to be a nurse, but farm work was long and hard. She took care of her grandparents when they became old at their home which is where Bill and Valera Wilhelm live today.

On Nov. 15, 1932 Odelia married Henry Rabel, the son of “Greenpond” Joe and Anna Rabel. They were raised about one mile apart. On their wedding day the wind blew very hard and there was sand on bowls of peaches that were served.

Henry and Odelia purchased their farm where she now lives from her father. They raised cotton, corn, and a few cattle. Odelia also raised chickens for meat and eggs. Mules and horses were used to plow and gather crops. A garden was an important source of food for the family. Some of the crops which did not last on the Rabel farm were peanuts and caster beans. Corn was topped above the ear to make fodder, which had to be tied by hand and put in shocks to dry. It was excellent filler for cattle, but very hard work. Cotton was either picked or pulled by hand with the boll left intact then placed in a pick sack.

Church played a big role in Henry and Odelia’s lives. The Ott and Rabel families were involved in putting up the nativity scene at Christmas. Henry would cut seven cedar trees that were perfectly shaped. Odelia took care of church linens. She served as chairman of the D.E.F. fund drive for several years. She participated in many Council of Catholic Women meetings and served on the Deanery board. Odelia also taught C.C.D.

Because of her love of learning, Henry and Odelia were involved with county agents and the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. She was a member of the Home Demonstration Club and participated in many events. She also encouraged her son to join the 4-H club, and have swine as his project. Being a typical teenager, record books and deadlines were pushed to the last minute. One year changes needed to be made in Carroll’s swine project book. A meeting was arranged with the county agent to finish the record book. Lightning caused the lights to go out in the courthouse and the record book was finished with a flashlight. It would bring joy to the Rabel family as it won one of six National 4-H Swine Awards and a college scholarship in 1962. Six years later her son would be the first one in the family to receive his degree from Texas A&M University. Odelia is also proud of her two grandsons, Carroll Jr, and Terrell who also graduated from Texas A&M.

Henry and Odelia were married for 61 years. Henry suffered a stroke in 1992 and was cared for by Odelia and her family until his death in 1994. Odelia broke her pelvis in 1999.

Odelia’s son Carroll Sr. married Mary Seline Bransom on his birthday in Jan. 29, 1972. She has two grandsons, Carroll Jr. (Bubba) who married Amy Wilhelm, a St. Edward’s graduate and Terrell who married Debbie Cantu an Texas A&M graduate. Terrell and Debbie have three children Barrett, Carina and Carlie.