Odell McConnell, Law Center Founder


Odell S. McConnell, founder of Pepperdine University's Odell McConnell Law Center in Malibu, has died. He was 95.

A Los Angeles lawyer for more than six decades, McConnell died Thursday at his home in Hancock Park after a series of strokes.

"Pepperdine has lost a great friend in the death of Odell McConnell," Pepperdine President David Davenport said. "Through his friendship and wise counsel, he has made an impact on the lives of lawyers for generations to come."

Pepperdine Chancellor Charles B. Runnels, a close friend of McConnell's for more than 25 years, said that McConnell considered the law center "his crowning achievement."

"It stands as a magnificent tribute to the man who made it possible," Runnels said.

McConnell's financial support made possible the law school's move from Orange County to the Malibu campus in the late 1970s.

"Today's young people will control and determine the welfare of our nation tomorrow with its cherished democratic institutions," McConnell said at the 1976 groundbreaking. "I feel very humble and grateful to have been offered the opportunity to play a major part in creating a law building named in my honor, where students are taught the ideals of a free society based on laws that reflect honor and equal justice for all."

Born in Montana in a long family line of lawyers and judges, McConnell was educated at Yale University and Harvard Law School.

He served in the U.S. Navy during World War I and re-enlisted as a lieutenant commander during World War II.

In addition to his work at Pepperdine, which included serving as a member of the university and the law school boards, McConnell helped establish the Hathaway Home for Children. He also was a patron of the Los Angeles County Music Center and a former trustee of Immanuel Presbyterian Church.

He is survived by a nephew, Alexander Thomason, Lakeworth, Fla. The family has asked that any memorial contributions be made to the Odell S. McConnell Scholarship at Pepperdine School of Law.

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