SDSU mourns the loss of a student


Tony Gorder And Amy Poppinga

Bradley Odens, a 23-year-old SDSU student, was fatally shot while entering the wrong house at 1:54 a.m. on April 9.

Odens, a senior electronics engineering technology major, was active in Concert Choir as a bass for three years and participated in Capers.

According to friends and faculty, Odens was a fun-loving person.

“He was very light-hearted ? ready with a joke,” said Byron Garry, Oden’s adviser and coordinator of electronics and engineering technology.

Choir director Steven Grives had similar impressions of Odens from seeing him in class.

“He was very mellow and easygoing,” said Grives.

“I knew him as a kind, fun-loving guy who everyone liked having around,” said Ben Sieverding, a fellow concert choir member.

“I met him my freshman year in Concert Choir, and we got to know each other very well over the course of that year through choir and other on-campus events such as Capers,” said Jerron Jorgensen, friend and fellow Concert Choir member. “He was able to cheer anyone up, and all he ever wanted was for people to have a good time and enjoy their life.”

A memory that many shared was Oden’s resemblance to Abraham Lincoln.

“I know many of us in the choir had the opportunity to share a laugh with him, especially when he wore an Abe Lincoln-style top hat around Washington, D.C., when the choir went there two years ago,” said Sieverding.

“Easily, my fondest memory of him would be when the SDSU Concert Choir traveled to Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2006,” said Jorgensen. “Brad was famous on campus for being an Abraham Lincoln look-a-like, so when the choir arrived at Ford’s Theatre, some of my friends and I convinced Brad to run across the street to an Abe Lincoln gift shop and buy a tuxedo bucket hat. He wore it all around Washington, D.C., giving fake speeches, giving autographs, taking pictures with tourists and even having a fake inauguration.”

Garry said he did not know Odens’ career goals but said Odens wanted to incorporate his love of music into his electronics engineering technology major. Odens was working on group project for his major, constructing a turntable that could be controlled wirelessly.

A benefit for the Odens’ family was held April 18 at Nutty’s South, located off of 49th Street and Louise Avenue in Sioux Falls.

“Brad was an amazing individual, and with the tough economy and the cost of a funeral being pretty expensive, we want(ed) to help ease the stress of that,” said Chad Meyer, one of the event’s organizers.

The benefit ran from noon to 4 p.m., and each participant paid $10 to get unlimited drinks from Miller Lite or Coors Light kegs during the four-hour period.

“We had around 100 people show up, and we were expecting more, but with the rainy weather and stuff that probably came up, some couldn’t make it,” said Meyer. “But with only those people coming, we raised right around $1,400 in four hours, which was great.”

Several fundraisers were held throughout the day. A silent auction featured such items as beer memorabilia – mirrors, signs, shirts and hats – and event organizers raffled off a VIP ticket to the NFL Draft Party with Chad Greenway of the Minnesota Vikings. The draft party will be held April 25 in Mitchell and the VIP ticket includes a limousine ride from Sioux Falls to Mitchell. Mike Miller of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Ryan Bader of UFC fighting will join Greenway at the event.

Additionally, buttons commemorating Odens’ life and crosses were sold for $1 each, with all proceeds of the day’s fundraisers going to the family.

“There were people just giving donations that we didn’t even know, so people were really helping out,” Meyer said.

Bob Otterson, executive assistant to the president at SDSU, said the university has made sure SDSU counseling services are adequately staffed to help students cope. Some friends are comforted by the life he led.

“I can honestly say that in his 23 years on this planet, he lived more than some 80-year-old men that I know,” said Jorgensen.

“He will be greatly missed by the SDSU Concert Choir and the greater SDSU community,” said Sieverding.