The late Stan Odesky had a phrase that he recited to people who sought his guidance – and there were many people who wanted the his advice.
“He would tell everybody that they should follow the ‘orthogonal implicit decision-making process,” said Bonnie Berland, Stan’s daughter and current president of Stanford H. Odesky and Associates. It sounded like a very wise and knowing kind of philosophy. It was also completely invented by Odesky himself. “It was a made-up word, that had nothing to do with anything. Just words put together to sound brilliant. And he used that term often,” Berland said with a laugh.
The vast majority of Odesky’s professional life, however, was spent strictly analyzing facts. Until his passing on December 20 at the age of 81, Odesky was an respected part of Toledo politics, and a most recognizable face on election nights. For decades, Odesky’s expertise at polling and analysis made him a fixture of election coverage on 13abc, where his ability to predict the winners was considered second to none.
“[He was] proud that the candidates would call him and listen to him, and even when he stopped predicting on TV, the news stations, still, around election time would come to the house and interview him, just to hear what he had to say,” Berland relates. “It was always important to him, because Toledo was so important to him, to have his finger on the pulse of local politics.”
Strong for Toledo
Indeed, Odesky’s life and career read like a love letter to his hometown. A graduate of Scott High School, Odesky earned his graduate and master’s degrees from the University of Toledo. His master’s thesis, entitled “An Analysis of the Opinions of Toledo Residents Concerning Toledo,” began a lifetime of interest in surveying and interpreting the opinions of Glass City residents.
“He always loved our town, and that was first and foremost. I think he was a proud Toledo guy first, and a family man first. He always talked about his wife and his daughters. And business was second,” said Mike Hart, president and CEO of marketing and advertising agency Hart Inc. “Stan was really a larger than life kind of guy,” Hart said. “I worked with Stan for literally my whole business career, which spans 35 years. And I always admired Stan, first, as a proud Toledoan.”
A well researched career
Odesky spent 25 years working for National Family Opinion before founding his own firm in 1986. Over the past three decades the firm has conducted research and surveys for businesses and political figures throughout the area.
In 2012, Odesky began to reduce his involvement in the day-to-day operations of Stanford H. Odesky and Associates, taking a position as company chairman. But his zest for life and the things he loved never faded. He was a fervent fan of UT sports and had season tickets for UT Women’s Basketball games. He was involved in the Symphony and the Toledo Opera. He collected stamps as a pasttime.
“He called the grandkids ‘The Fab Five,’” Berland said. “That was the passion of his, attending all their activities.”
Though Toledo politics may feel a loss with his absence, Odesky’s work and philosophy – that good old “orthogonal implicit decision-making process” — will continue on. His firm continues the work that he dedicated his life to, his daughter Bonnie continuing at the helm.
“Toledo has got a good one still in Bonnie Berland,” Hart said. “Bonnie is a sharp research person as well, and so we’re blessed to have Bonnie carry on that legacy.”
As for Berland, as she looks back on the remarkable path her father forged, she said that his most lasting lessons could be found beyond his life’s work.
“Just doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, and helping people along the way,” Berland said, those were lessons she learned from her father.