Former Ag Commissioner Bob Odom dies at age 78 - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; |

Former Ag Commissioner Bob Odom dies at age 78

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ZACHARY, La. (AP) - Bob Odom, who served seven terms as Louisiana's agriculture commissioner and was a top Democratic powerbroker in his heyday, has died at 78.

Odom's long-time aide, Randal Johnson, said the former commissioner died Saturday morning at a Zachary hospital after having difficulty breathing. Odom had suffered from an array of health problems for several years.

Louisiana's longest-serving agriculture commissioner, Odom was in the job from 1980 until 2008. For years, he was one of Louisiana's most powerful elected officials.

He gave up his bid for an eighth term when he was forced into a runoff amid an ongoing criminal corruption case against him. The case was dismissed in 2009.

Before being elected commissioner, Odom had worked for the agriculture and forestry department since 1960.

Funeral arrangements weren't immediately available Saturday.

Statement from LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain"

“Today, Louisiana lost a giant in the agricultural industry. Former Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Bob Odom began his agriculture service in 1960 as an employee of the department and was elected commissioner in 1979. There is something to be said for anyone who has dedicated most of their life to public service.

Most notably and early on in his tenure, Odom combined all aspects of the agricultural industry under one department, making it more modern and operating more efficiently, and making it a model for other states. Odom was also a past president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) which helped bring the Louisiana agricultural industry to the national forefront.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Commissioner Odom’s loved ones.”

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