Darryl Odum, the first African-American to work in construction in a higher management position, died on Jan. 10, and is survived by his wife, two sons, five grandchildren, and three siblings. (Photo by Dignity Memorial)

By Aria Brent,
AFRO Staff Writer

Darryl Odum was born July 26,1947 in Baltimore, Md. A product of Baltimore Public Schools, Odum attended PS#148, Garrison Junior High and Carver High. Following his graduation in 1965, he furthered his education at Maryland State College Eastern Shore, now University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where he studied construction engineering and graduated with his engineering degree in 1969.

After receiving his degree, Odum went on to work for Whiting and Turner contracting company where he was elevated to the role of project manager. His long  trailblazing career quickly took off. Odum was the first Black person to work in construction in a higher management position. Working there until 1973, Odum then moved to Kansas City, Mo., where he started his career with Chrysler Realty Corp. working as a Construction Engineer and Real Estate Representative. 

His career with Chrysler took him further west to California, where he spent the rest of his life. 

Upon leaving Chrysler in 1994, he briefly returned to Maryland in 1995 to work with Whiting and Turner once more. He stayed one year, quickly departing after seeing that the company hadn’t diversified at all since his previous tenure with them.

Disappointed to see that his efforts towards integration had not gone very far, Odum returned to California to work in the California market as a construction engineer. Having been employed since age 11, Odum retired from the engineering business at age 63 in 2014.

He and his wife Freida were married for 59 years prior to his passing. Odum passed away on Jan.10, 2023 and is survived by his wife, two sons, five grandchildren, and three siblings. 

CORRECTION: Darryl Odum attended Maryland State University Eastern Shore, the article has been corrected to reflect this.