LEXINGTON — Susan Anne Odom died Sunday, April 18, 2021, in Lexington. She was born in Paducah on Nov. 16, 1980, and lived briefly in Texas before returning to Kentucky. She had a curious mind from an early age and could spot four leaf clovers and calcite crystals just by walking past them. She read early and excelled in school. Her teachers in McLean County kindled her love of science; she was also inspired by her father, a metallurgical engineer, and her grandfather, Wesley Lind, a chemist.
She attended McLean County High School; she graduated from Apollo High School in Owensboro. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and her doctorate from Georgia Tech. After post-doctoral work at the University of Illinois, she returned to UK, where she was an associate professor of chemistry and led a research group. (Despite this excellent choice of schools, she never became a fan of basketball or any other sport for that matter.) Her recent research focused on new materials for energy storage. She had a joint appointment at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, where she worked on lithium batteries.
Susan loved to travel for both work and pleasure. She studied at Oxford and taught chemistry in Jilin, China. She organized symposia and presented at conferences throughout the world. Of all her vacations, she especially prized her time in Iceland. She loved the time we spent at Lake Michigan and was looking forward to our July vacation there. She was an adventurous eater—trying local foods like fried silkworms—wherever she went. The more unusual the better.
Susan enthusiastically supported women in science and cofounded a group to encourage young girls to pursue their STEM interests. Her exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago demonstrated her work in self-healing molecules.
Like her mother, Susan loved gardening and posted beautiful photos of the flowers she grew. Her father taught her to appreciate a wide range of music, including opera; she attended many live performances. She spent several years breeding huge Maine Coon cats, and later began to rescue stray cats. The four cats she had at the time of her death had the best care imaginable and may have been the most photographed cats in the world. The family is truly grateful to the friends who took them in.
Susan was much loved by many friends and relatives and will be missed so very much. Susan was preceded in death by her father, Thomas Odom, in 2006; and by her sister, Meg, who died in 2007.
She is survived by her mother, Janice Odom of Owensboro; by her cousins, Logan Young and his wife, Saeko, Steve Fenster and his wife, Jade Hoyer, and Michael Fenster; and by her aunts and uncles Alice Lind and her husband, Keith Dublanica, Diane and Bruce Fenster, Janet and Rich Young and Nancy Odom.
A memorial service will be outdoors 2 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, 1328 Griffith Ave., Owensboro. The service will also be available on Facebook at facebook.com/fpcowensboro.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Owensboro Humane Society, P.O. Box 1075, Owensboro, KY 42302 or the Scott County Humane Society, 751 Slone Dr. #13, Georgetown, KY 40324.