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Iowa Public Television


Remembering Mary Jane Odell

December 20, 2010

The Iowa Public Television Family notes the passing of one of its most durable on-air personalities in our long broadcast history - Certainly one of the most recognizable and appreciated:

Mary Jane Odell passed away at the age of 87 this past week.

Noted as an extraordinarily talented interviewer for over 40-years, Mary Jane became an on-air talent known far-and-wide by first name only.  She was to "go-to" interviewer long before she came to IPTV in 1975. While here, she excelled in a number of daily and weekly formats.

Mary Jane began her Iowa broadcast career in 1955 as Mary Jane Chinn on KRNT-TV - Channel 8 in Des Moines.  She was a true broadcast pioneer in that women at that time were not fixtures in the

But a fixture she was…and her star shined the brightest as an intelligent, well-prepared and thoughtful personality and interviewer.

Before coming to IPTV, Mary Jane had an 8-year run in Chicago.  Voted the best interviewer in Chicago and two Emmy Awards later, she returned to her home state and to IPTV in 1975.

Mary Jane was a native of Algona, a graduate of the University of Iowa, president of her Senior Class, and she earned Phi Beta Kappa Honors.

She also made her mark as a public servant.

Mary Jane was appointed Secretary of State by Governor Robert D. Ray in 1980 and then was elected to the post in 1982. She went on to serve a total of 7-years at the Iowa Statehouse.

Her awards were countless. Her intelligence and diligence appreciated…
And her contributions to the broadcast industry in Iowa and beyond are immeasurable.

Those who worked with her…and those who appreciated her work…will miss her.

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