Mrs. Odile Mathilde Marie Duffman, 76, passed away in an untimely manner on Nov. 23, 2023, in Onley at Riverside Memorial Hospital.
Exceptional. Extraordinary. Vibrant. Steadfast. Resilient. Kind. Intelligent. Courageous. There are too many words to describe a woman who had lived — who had actually lived — an adventurous life, but what would one expect from a woman who was a force of nature, with the stubbornness and drive that only being a child of a revolution can manifest? She loved with the same passionate fervor, and she cared deeply for her husband, David; furthermore, she stood as a champion, staunch supporter, and loving mother (and grandmother to Gabrielle and Jacob) to her four boys and one girl, John-Marc, Dominic, Christopher, Patrick, and Aurore.
Odile Mathilde Marie Duffman (née Barrut) was born on March 28, 1947, in Bone, Algeria, to the late Marc and Jeanne Barrut. Considered a “pied noir” in her native country of France, she wore this moniker like a badge of honor. She lived through a revolution that molded her into the sometimes reckless, adventure-seeking woman she was. It is thanks to this courageous nature of hers that the winds serendipitously guided her wings to Germany.
There she met the love of her life, “son âme sœur,” her rock, David Duffman. Like the calm ocean meeting an active volcano, their love created almost blinding sparks and steam. Odile was a firecracker who brought joy, passion, and motivation to everyone she encountered, be it her husband, her children, her family, her students, and even strangers. Though her family members lost their light on Thanksgiving Day, she taught them to keep strong and carry on. Some people are irreplaceable. They shouldn’t be allowed to leave — even more so if they are the toughest of us and a lighthouse for so many.
Odile Duffman’s teaching career began at Cape Charles High School in 1984, and upon leaving from there, she began teaching at Northampton High School. In 1994 she and David went to teach in the Philippines — then they broadened their teaching experience by moving to Bahrain, and from there, they returned to the Shore in 2001, where she resumed her position at Northampton High School. In 2005 she and David decided to teach in Prince George County, Md., until they both retired in 2010.
However, when Odile returned to the Shore, she felt that she was not done with the classroom. She earned a Master’s degree in education from Indiana Wesleyan University and upon completion, she received 18 additional credits in French. Later, she enjoyed teaching French (her ultimate passion) at both Thomas Nelson Community College and Eastern Shore Community College. Upon her passing, she was an adjunct professor of French at Old Dominion University.
To be sure, Odile Duffman touched so many lives with her teaching and her ways of life. Whenever a student had a question in class, she would quip, “Look it up, dear.” She made sure that the students took control of their knowledge before she gave them a ready response. She was unabashed in what she enjoyed and did what she wanted to do.
What most people admired, though, is the way that she was also so kind. Even with everything she had seen and experienced in her life, she had one of the kindest hearts. She was strong-willed to the point of being bull-headed at times; she was a world traveler with a passion for seeing new things and experiences; she was a lover of learning and of expressing that knowledge to others; she was fearless — even if she was scared she would never show it; she was driven; she was a great cook; she was always willing to step out of her comfort zone to experience new things; she was French to her core — and above all else, she was a mom and will be forever missed — the world will be a different place without her here.
Moreover, Odile was the center of the family and would always bring people together, whether direct family or adopted. She loved life to the fullest and believed it necessary to live every moment. She was the developer of minds in many people who were willing to learn because she loved to teach — she loved to teach so much that she is teaching still today but now from heaven; she is teaching her family how to move forward by making her loved ones rely on each other for support and love. Odile Duffman was an amazing daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and educator who will be missed by many from all over the world.
Odile Duffman was known for her love of family, gardening, tinkering, discovering, traveling, reading, and lifelong learning; she was a woman of so many talents — there was really nothing she could not do. If she was not familiar with a subject, she would research the “how-to-do-it” videos until she perfected the skill. She was deeply devoted to the cultivation of her family — she orchestrated many family gatherings where she would spend her time enjoying their company. Odile absolutely loved her family pets — Shadow, her beautiful cat, and the chickens (fondly known as “the Girls”).
Odile Duffman will be lovingly remembered by David Duffman, her husband of 53 years; and their five children, John-Marc (Nancy) Duffman, Dominic (Stacey) Duffman, Christopher (Christina) Duffman (and grandchildren, Gabrielle and Jacob), Patrick (Kristina) Duffman, and Aurore Barrut; as well as her brothers, Jean-Marc Barrut, Luc Barrut; and sister, Genevieve Pinot; as well many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
She was predeceased by her parents and two brothers, Pièrre Barrut and Louis Barrut.
She will never be forgotten and will forever be in her family’s hearts and prayers.
For anyone, from now on, whenever you yearn to ask her a question — only take some of her advice — just look up, dear, to the skies — and smile.
There will be a celebration of life ceremony in the spring (to be announced at a later date).
Also, upon David’s request, please do not send flowers, but please send donations to our local SPCA, 26528 Lankford Highway, Onley, VA 23418.