Readers wanted to know … Oddie found answers

Community service was the common thread running through Emmie Oddie’s long life on the Prairies.

The former Western Producer food and lifestyles columnist, who died July 6 at the age of 97, offered homemaking advice, lobbied for home economist positions in Saskatchewan districts and fought to better the lives of rural women globally.

Kathryn Groshong of Weyburn, Sask., served with Oddie at Sask-atchewan Women’s Institutes and helped her create a cookbook, From Prairie Kitchens.

She called Oddie a strong leader whose work for the betterment of women extended to the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada and the Associated Country Women of the World.

“She encouraged women to be-come more active,” Groshong said.

“She listened carefully to things and made you feel like what you were doing had an importance.”

Liz Delahey, former Western People editor and Farm Living editor at The Western Producer, called Oddie an institution. The column, I’d Like to Know, ran from 1949-95.

“She had the ability to come to people in their kitchen,” said Delahey.

She provided farm women with practical information in the days before Google and computers, understood their reality and inability to access recipe ingredients as easily as those in the city and could relate to her readers’ rural lifestyle.

Delahey said Oddie’s home economics training helped her provide trusted information on food preservation.

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“Emmie had very good research skills and an excellent filing system,” said Delahey.

She said her columns were handwritten, often done in airports and between the many meetings she attended.

She wrote a personal column that detailed her own farm and family life, she said.

“That’s what endeared her to people,” Delahey said.

“She was humble and when she spoke, there was always a deep message given. It was not something off the top of her head. She had thought carefully about it.”

Saskatchewan home economists honoured Oddie by creating a website, www.homefamily.net, offering much of the same kind of information she once had in her column.

Rosemary Oddie, Emmie’s daughter, said she accomplished the balancing act of writing, farm and family life and community service by being a good time manager.

“She didn’t necessarily know what the answers were, but she knew where to look them up,” said Rosemary of her mother’s column.

She encouraged her children to use their talents and modelled her commitment to local community service through teaching Sunday school and starting a homemakers’ club.

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Emmie Ducie was born in 1916 and grew up on a farm at Dundurn, Sask. She married Langford Oddie, an agrologist and farmer, and raised two children, Rosemary and Will, on a farm at Milestone, Sask., and later Tregarva, Sask.

Oddie had an undergraduate degree in household science and a master’s degree in home economics.

She worked as a nutritionist for the Red Cross and in extension work and teaching home management classes at the University of Saskatchewan.

She and her sister, Rose Jardine, a former Western Producer editor and gardening columnist, were influenced by their mother Emma Ducie, an early feminist.

Oddie served as president of the SWI and the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada, led 4-H clubs, judged country fairs and served on boards such as the Saskatchewan Arts Board and the Advisory Council for the Status of Women.

The grandmother and great-grandmother also worked to provide educational information on nutrition, food preparation and home management to the under-privileged in the Regina region.

She received life memberships in SWI, FWIC and the Saskatchewan Home Economics Association and was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984. Rosemary said her mother was gratified to be recognized for her service.

Even as her age advanced and as she required higher levels of care, she found ways to contribute by playing her piano and conducting singsongs for the other seniors.

“Her desire was to be useful,” said Rosemary.

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