Benefit planned to aid Veteran, Port Arthur Police dispatcher battling cancer

Published 12:06 am Thursday, December 21, 2023

Marine Veteran and longtime 911 dispatcher for the city of Port Arthur Ralph Odom is described as an easy going man who always looks out for others and tries to lighten the mood in what is a stressful job.

Odom makes sure his co-workers are fed and have their coffee, but is also a hard worker dedicated to his job, co-workers say.

Odom is fighting two types of cancer; B-cell lymphoma MYC and stomach cancer and is unable to work at this time. A benefit is being held beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday at Walmart, 8585 Memorial Blvd. in Port Arthur to help with expenses that he may incur during his treatment.

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Christian Gutierrez has worked with the 62-year-old Odom for 11 years.

She said during the benefit they are selling link combos, boudain combos and baked goods. There is face painting for a donation, and T-shirts supporting Odom are being sold. Donations will be accepted at the site.

Gutierrez said Odom started work with the police department in 1979 as a jailer, and when the city’s jail closed, he went to work as a dispatcher.

Gutierrez said Odom returned to work full time in June, then started feeling bad. A co-worker had to persuade him to go to the doctor a few months ago, when they noticed he was having severe stomach pain. Odom, she said, was worried about leaving his team short-staffed.

Odom still needs to have a PET scan performed to check lymph nodes and other areas to see if the cancer has spread.

Gutierrez said the hope is for him to have the scan Wednesday.

Officer Wendy Billiot can attest to Odom’s work ethic.

“I can tell you that Ralph is as devoted as they come,” Billiot said, adding he retired for a very short time but still worked in a temporary capacity before applying and getting rehired.

Gutierrez said Odom is undergoing chemotherapy and has to take special shots for his immune system. He has to travel back and forth to M.D. Anderson in Houston for his treatments.

Under normal circumstances Odom enjoys going to concerts at casinos, spending time with family and riding motorcycles. He has a son, a daughter and a grandchild.