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Bethel AME Church’s First Lady Gets a Homegoing Celebration

Velma L. Oden

Velma L. Oden

Velma L. Oden, RN

On December 11, 2016, Velma L. Oden passed after a long illness. Velma leaves to cherish her memory her loving and devoted husband of 47 years, Rev. Dr. Clyde W. Oden, Pastor of Bethel AME Church, Oxnard; her three children, Donald, Eleanor and Kiyo; seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and a host of other relatives and dear friends.
Velma Lee Oden was born on October 25, 1938, in St. Louis, Missouri and was the first child of Henry and Leola Alexander. Velma was raised in Oakland, California, where she graduated from Castlemont High School. Following high school graduation, Velma trained to become a dental technician and worked in that profession for a number of years. Velma later became an EKG technician and worked at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland.

Velma married Dr. Clyde W. Oden, Jr. on October 18, 1969, after meeting while they were both employed at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland. They relocated to Los Angeles where Clyde accepted a position with the Watts Health Foundation, where he later became President and CEO.

Velma later enrolled at Los Angeles Southwest College where she graduated with an Associate of Science in Nursing. Following graduation, she began her nursing career at the Hubert Humphrey Comprehensive Health Center. Velma excelled in nursing and quickly rose to become a Nurse Manager in the Urgent Care department.

During her illustrious nursing career, Velma 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.

Following her husband’s call to the ministry, Velma served as first lady at Holy Trinity, Bryant Temple and Bethel AME churches. At Holy Trinity and Bryant Temple, Velma 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 dresses, immaculately clean home, love of elephant figurines, and striking silver-gray hair. 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.

Services for Velma Oden were held on Wednesday, December 21, at Bethel AME Church located at 855 S. ‘F’ Street, in Oxnard.

The final service was held on December 22, at Bryant Temple AME Church, located at 2525 W. Vernon Ave., in Los Angeles.

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