Thomas Joseph O'Dea, PhD, CCE
July 7, 1938 - December 8, 2020
Clinical Engineer, active leader, and advocate for the Clinical Engineering Profession
On Tuesday, December 8, 2020, Tom O'Dea, devoted husband and loving father and grandfather, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 82. Tom was welcomed with open arms to heaven by his son, Patrick, his brother Patrick, and his parents, Beatrice and Patrick. He is survived by his wife Kay, daughter Christy and son-in-law Christian Busken, and grandchildren Marin, Maura, and Jack O'Dea and Melina Busken.
Born to Irish immigrants in the Bronx on July 7, 1938, he attended St. Jerome's Catholic school and entered the Christian Brothers, where he served as a high school science teacher for many years in upstate New York. He received his bachelor's degree in physics from the Catholic University, master's degree from State University of New York, and completed post-graduate studies in physics at Northwestern University in Chicago.
In 1969 in Chicago, he met the love of his life, Kay, and they were married on July 11, 1970. He was the Director the first Department of Biomedical Engineering at Evanston Hospital. After the birth of Christy and Patrick, the family moved to Shoreview, Minnesota, where Tom took a position as Director of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. In 1993, after a long battle with brain cancer, his son Patrick went to heaven. Tom was a true lifelong learner, earning a PhD in medical imaging in 2001 at the age of 63. Even after retirement from the University of Minnesota, he continued his passion for biomedical engineering through many "projects" that he was constantly working on in the early hours of the morning and secured a number of patents for his work.
Tom was a supporter of many charities over his lifetime. In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to one of the following charities:
Friends and family came together virtually to celebrate Tom's life at a virtual Irish wake on Thursday, December 17, 2020.
Funeral services were held at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Montgomery, Ohio on Friday, December 18, 2020 at 12:00 Eastern Standard Time. The Mass was live streamed.
Tom O'Dea was a gentleman and a gentle man. Always open to discuss a wide range of clinical engineering topics, and always well informed. Tom did not just serve as Advocacy Chair for five years, he was an active leader and advocate for the profession, writing articles, rebutting criticisms, and strongly representing the best in our profession - always with dignity and grace. It was in recognition of his contributions to advocacy, beyond the chair, that prompted the Board to establish the Tom O'Dea Advocacy Award. I was privileged to work with Tom as recently as last year and found he had not lost any of his fervor for ACCE or clinical engineering. May he rest in peace.
I am shocked and saddened. I share Ray's description of Tom as a pillar of our community, quietly without taking the stage he was always kind and generous with his time and leadership.
We received an email recently - he and his wife had just moved closer to family – making this even harder to take.
Please add my name to message of condolence to his family.
Best wishes to all – for a better year ahead! And as Ray is fond of saying: Stay Safe.
I so enjoyed working with Tom. Ray really says it best above. I remember his passion and his wonderful distinctive voice that would rouse everyone’s support!
Tom and I served on the CE Board of Examiners when it was under AAMI maybe 25 years ago.
He was a good man. A very happy and upbeat fellow.
It was a pleasure to see Minnesotan Tom O in action! Exemplifying his lifelong learning, here’s a 2016 Tom email: