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Velma L. Oden, First Lady of Bethel AME – Oxnard, Passes
By Sentinel News Service
Published December 22, 2016
Velma Lee Oden

                                                       Velma Lee Oden

Velma Lee Oden, first lady of Bethel AME Church in Oxnard, passed away December 11, following a long illness. She was 78 years old.

A celebration of her life will be held on Wednesday, December 21, at 11 a.m. at Bethel AME Church, 855 S. F. Street in Oxnard. The final service takes place on Thursday, December 22, at 11 a.m. at Bryant Temple AME Church, 2525 W. Vernon Ave., in Los Angeles.

Velma was born on October 25, 1938 in St. Louis, Missouri, to Henry and Leola Alexander. Raised in Oakland, California, she graduated from Castlemont High School and next trained to become a dental technician. After working several years in that profession, Velma became an EKG technician at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland.


While employed at Kaiser, Velma met Dr. Clyde W. Oden, Jr., a fellow employee. They united in marriage on October 18, 1969 and soon relocated to Los Angeles when Clyde accepted a position with the Watts Health Foundation (WHF). He eventually became the WHF president and chief executive officer.

Velma earned Associate in Science degree in Nursing at Los Angeles Southwest College and began her nursing career at the Hubert Humphrey Comprehensive Health Center. She excelled in her career and quickly rose to become a nurse manager in the Urgent Care department.

“She also received many honors including Nurse of the Year and received commendations for extraordinary life-saving efforts in a non-clinical setting. She was also widely recognized and respected for her nursing leadership and patient advocacy,” recalled her husband, Clyde.

Following his call to the ministry, Velma served as first lady at Holy Trinity, Bryant Temple and Bethel AME churches. At Holy Trinity and Bryant Temple, she led the health ministries that provided breast cancer and diabetes screenings as well as instituted programs for first aid certification with the American Heart Association.

“From childhood, Velma was meticulous about her personal style and, as an adult, was known for her impeccable dress, immaculately clean home, love of elephant figurines, and striking silver-gray hair,” said Clyde. “God’s grace has followed Velma throughout her life. Among her greatest testimonies was her gratitude for being an organ transplant recipient in 2013. Velma remained eternally thankful to the family of a young woman who selflessly donated an organ that saved Velma’s life.”

Cherishing her memory are her husband of 47 years, the Rev. Dr. Clyde W. Oden, pastor of Bethel AME Church, Oxnard; three children, Donald, Eleanor and Kiyo; seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and a host of other relatives and friends.


Her interment will be at Inglewood Park Cemetery. Joseph P. Reardon Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Ventura are handling arrangements.

Categories: Religion
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