San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Obituary: José Oduber

Fundación Neotrópica project manager José Oduber died of cancer Sunday at the age of 53. A funeral was held for him at a church in his home of Turrialba, east of San José. Fundación Neotrópica is a prestigious Costa Rican nonprofit organization that does research into sustainable living and conservation.

Karla Córdoba, who often worked with Oduber, said he loved what he did right up until his last days. When Oduber became too ill to join the rest of the staff working on a recent project, he kept involved through Skype. Córdoba remembered he could think of beautiful, poignant thoughts to send to those he knew in the community, even while his health was failing him.

“He had the ability to write very sweet things, with a lot of feeling,” Córdoba said.

Oduber left a description of his life on his Facebook page – where friends throughout the week posted messages thanking him for his teachings and hospitality – talking about how he lived a life filled with wonder.  

He felt lucky to have grown up on the slopes near the Turrialba Volcano. Oduber described the lessons he learned throughout his life. He picked them up everywhere, whether they were in his favorite books or through experience. He recalled one of his favorite memories of selling cheese in a market as a way to fund his studies in college. 

He closed the note with the tender prose that impressed so many of his peers and students: 

“Later in life, where the roads are never straight nor linear, I was carried by marvelous paths through rural sociology and was deeply involved in the dilemma of integrating as much harmony as possible in the conservation of natural resources, human needs and the reaffirmation of cultural values, and this adventure took me through all the countries of Latin America to the age I am now, I think with much more experience and knowledge, but essentially I am the same person that ran protected by the fog, because my dreams never let me down.”

Oduber is survived by his mother, his wife Ana and their three children.

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