Joshua Stewart Odell

Date of Birth

December 14, 1956

Date of Death

May 19, 2020

Joshua Stewart Odell, a publishing executive, rare book collector, and longtime resident of Santa Barbara, died May 19, 2020 of complications from myelofibrosis, a rare, chronic blood cancer that attacks the bone marrow and the production of blood cells.

The youngest child of Ruth and Robert S. Odell, Jr., Joshua Odell was born December 14, 1956, in Palo Alto, California, where he attended Walter Hays Elementary School, Jordan Junior High School, and graduated from Palo Alto High in 1975.

A 1980 graduate of UCSB, Joshua studied English literature with the poet Edgar Bowers and attended the Radcliffe Publishing Course. Upon moving to New York City, he worked in publicity for the legendary publisher Alfred A. Knopf. He subsequently served as Publicity Director for Grove Press, and was the Sales and Marketing Manager at the publishing firm George Braziller, Inc.

Returning to California in 1985, Joshua was a frequent contributor of book reviews to The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The San Jose Mercury News, among other publications. He also wrote a publishing column and reviewed books for Publisher’s Weekly magazine.

By 1988, Joshua had settled permanently in Santa Barbara where he founded Joshua Odell Editions, a publishing company whose titles include Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, a small-press best-seller. For twenty-two years he maintained his office at the Meridian Studios in downtown Santa Barbara.

The Odell side of Joshua’s family has deep roots in Santa Barbara, having acquired the Santa Barbara Biltmore in 1936. Joshua’s grandparents purchased the historic San Marcos Ranch in Santa Ynez in 1956. Joshua lived on the ranch for many years and, with his father, managed the family’s ranching business, overseeing and then winding down the alfalfa, barley and oat hay farming operations and the breeding of Percheron and Belgian draft horses. He represented the family in the development of the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course on part of the ranch property.

Joshua married the love of his life, Cynthia Cornett Odell, on October 3, 1993 in a spectacular outdoor celebration on Bear’s Back Ridge at the ranch. Joshua and Cynthia have two sons, Gabriel and Alexander. Joshua was a devoted father and enjoyed nothing more than watching Gabe and Alex play in basketball games or perform in shows at school.

Joshua’s love of literature led him to book collecting, a passion that began in his undergraduate days and continued throughout his life. He collected thousands of titles, many rare or sought-after, which he kept and enjoyed in his custom-built library. Joshua was also famous among friends and family for his love of music. He rejoiced in good seats at a great show, and his music collection, knowledge of artists and genres, and stereo system were all extraordinary.

Joshua is survived by his wife, Cynthia, his two sons Gabriel Stewart Odell and Alexander Stewart Odell, his brother Tim Odell of Bend Oregon, and a sister, Helen Melinda Morland, of Boise, Idaho.

A private interment will take place in the family plot at the Santa Barbara Cemetery.


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