Les O’Donnell, 82, departed this life for Heaven on May 22, 2023 in North Platte surrounded by his wife and family.

He was born on Sept. 7, 1940 in a farmhouse outside of Bird City, Kan. to Leslie and Doris (Lowe) O’Donnell. He was raised in Benkelman with his older brother, LeRoy.

Les graduated from Benkelman High School in 1958. After high school he attended McCook Junior College and went on to the University of Nebraska and completed his degree in Civil Engineering. Les started working for the Nebraska Department of Roads maintenance division in Benkelman in 1960. Before his graduation from the University, he married the love of his life, Deanna Nicholson, on June 10, 1962.

Les continued working for the Department in the central headquarters in Lincoln during his last few years at the University. After his graduation in 1963, he was given the opportunity to join the Department full time in North Platte as an Engineer 1, working on various highway systems and the original Interstate system through the state.

During these first years in North Platte, Les & Deanna welcomed their first child, Larry, in January, 1966.

The family moved back to Lincoln in the fall of 1968. Les was working at the Department central headquarters in roadway design. In May of 1969, Les & Deanna welcomed their second child, Lorie. In September, 1971 they welcomed their third child, Leah.

In December, 1971 the family moved back to North Platte where Les was promoted the District 6 Construction Engineer for the Department. There he continued his career and was promoted to the district engineer position for District 6 in June 1, 1974.

Les retired from the Department after 44 years of service on Oct. 14, 2005.

Les enjoyed hunting and fishing as well as coaching his children in sports. He coached Larry in little league baseball and football. He started coaching Leah in softball in 1980. He coached both of his daughters on the same team in the summer of 1984. He found a love for this sport and continued coaching softball for many years in North Platte.

For several decades these ladies had the opportunity to continue playing softball in college after being coached by Les. He has coached two generations of softball players from North Platte, and hundreds of girls from the area. Les taught softball clinics across the state from Lincoln to Chadron. He was honored to be inducted into the Nebraska Softball Coaches Hall of Fame.

Those left to cherish Les’ memory are his wife, Deanna of almost 61 years; children, Larry & Christine O’Donnell, Lorie O’Donnell & Greg Hanna, and Leah O’Donnell; grandchildren, Luke, Abigale, and Kailey Grace O’Donnell, Connor & Callie States, Savanna States, Logan and Landan Greeno, and Layna O’Donnell; great-grandson, Sawyer; sister-in-law, Nici Lehmer; nephews, John Lehmer, Lance O’Donnell and Lynn O’Donnell.

Les was preceded in death by his parents and Deanna’s parents; his brother and sister-in-law, a nephew and a son-in-law. 

Carpenter Memorial Chapel in North Platte is in charge of arrangements. The family will welcome guests at the funeral home on Monday, May 29 from 3-5 p.m. The celebration of life will be held on Tuesday, May 30 at 1 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the First United Methodist Church or the North Platte Public Schools Foundation designated to the NPHS softball program.

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