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John Oden Mecom

Wednesday, July 29, 2020
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After more than 80 years spent with us as a son, brother, classmate, friend, scholar, teacher, coach, artist, author, musician, husband, father and grandfather, Dr. John Oden Mecom left this world on July 22, 2020, to begin a brand new adventure.

We know that wherever this new adventure leads, John is enthusiastically asking questions and telling stories!

John was born on Oct. 9, 1939, in Winnsboro, LA, to Hazel Oden and Russell Sage Mecom. He was a kind, smart, athletic, hardworking boy who made the most of a modest upbringing. He graduated near the top of his class at Ruston High School in 1957, and set out on what would become a decade-long journey through higher education.

After his sophomore year at Louisiana Tech, John snagged the summer job of a lifetime, earning a coveted appointment to spend the summer of 1959 as a dishwasher at the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. John’s time in Yellowstone was the catalyst for his lifelong reverence of the rugged outdoors.

Even more enchanting than the mountain peaks, however, was the lovely Duke sorority girl from Maryland who was waitressing at the Inn that summer.

Following his graduation from Louisiana Tech with a B.S. degree in Education, John married Caroline Christina Hansen in Silver Spring, Maryland, on August 19, 1961, and they embarked on a wonderful 59-year odyssey together.

John earned an M.S. degree in biology from Northwestern University in 1963 and a Ph.D in zoology in 1969 from the University of Colorado in Boulder. He began his career as an assistant professor of biology at Southern Methodist University from 1969-1974, then spent more than 30 years teaching biology and anatomy on the faculty of Richland College in Dallas.

In 1973, Dr. Mecom participated in the first limnological study of Lake Skadar in Montenegro as a member of the Smithsonian Institution’s Oceanography and Limnology Program. Back in Dallas, Dr. Mecom gave numerous lectures on ecology to civic, religious and academic groups and was renowned for leading expeditions to Big Bend National Park on behalf of the Dallas Museum of History.

In 1997 he was named alumnus of the year by the Louisiana Tech College of Education.

As accomplished as he was, John would tell you his greatest achievements were his boys, Jeff and Jim. He was omnipresent in their lives and left no doubt that his devotion to them was absolute. He coached their soccer teams, took them camping and skiing, never missed a game or school event, and engineered epic family road trips during his summers off from teaching. John was a legend among the boys’ peers for his dry wit and blunt delivery.

When his sons grew up and got married, John embraced their wives, Lynne Hill Mecom and Kathy Coghlan Mecom, and became “Pops” to his three beloved grandchildren, Luke, Bennett and Kendall.

In retirement, John was an avid painter, sang in the choir at First United Methodist Church Richardson and volunteered at Baylor Scott & White Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas. He achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a published fiction author when his novels “The Caldera Incident,” “Luca’s Run” and “High Fall” were released on Amazon.

John and Caroline shared a great love of traveling, and visited over 50 countries in their 59 years together. His favorite pastime, however, was following his grandkids’ athletic pursuits, recitals and academic milestones, rarely missing an event.

John is surely thrilled to reunite with those who have gone before him, including his beloved younger sister Mary Mecom McConaughy, his older brother Bill Mecom, his longtime ski buddy and confidante, Pete Stone, his high school classmates and the many great friends he has made along his journey.

The family will honor John privately at this time.

In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring John with an online Tribute Gift to the National ParkFoundation (www.nationalparks. org) or by mailing a check to Superintendent, Yellowstone National Park, Attn. Finance Office, PO Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190.