Richard Robert Woods
May 11, 1934 to April 20, 2014
He went home to be with the Lord on Easter Morning!
THEME: Life is a State of Mind! Proverbs 23:7 KJV
Favorite Movies: Pink Panther Movies with Peter Sellers.
Favorite Line: "Does your dog bite?...That is not my dog!"
Dad was born on the farm in Halle Center Texas. He hated the farming life. When he was in the fields he would look up in the sky and see the planes flying overhead and he wanted so bad to be in them. Dad said that he made God a promise, "if you get me off this farm, I promise never to return!" He kept his word. It wasn't until just a few years ago that dad visited the farm in Hale Center. Dad remembers growing up on his Papa's farm where there was no indoor toilet. He fondly remembers sitting in front of the Philco radio listening to the programs each night for entertainment. Robert Woods, dad's father, died when dad was only 2 years old. He never knew his father until April 20, 2014. Her 2nd husband was Ross, who dad knew growing up. Dad tells the story of Ross, Hattie and dad riding in the truck with the windows open going up Guadalupe peak. About half way up Hattie reached over dad and grabbed Ross's pipe that he was smoking and threw it out the window. She had had enough of his smoking! One day Hattie decided that the family needed to move to Portland Oregon. She had heard that there were jobs up there so they packed up the car and left the next day. The odd thing about this move was that Hattie was the owner of a successful restaurant at the time. She just got it in her head to leave so they left.
Growing up Dad had a mouth on him and often learned things the hard way. He told me that the Navy changed him into the man he was and that he was so thankful for the Navy. He said that if I had met him in his younger years I wouldn't like him. He attended 4 high schools before graduation. He jokes that he was a "Thank the Lordy" graduate instead of a cum laude. He had a big mouth and asked for a lot of what he got in school. He told me about a time he mouthed off to the shop teacher and the teacher asked him if he would like to put on the gloves and settle this. He did, and the man hit him so hard and so fast that he didn't even see it. After the beating dad was told that the teacher was a golden gloves boxing champ.
Dad's best friend had an idea about joining the Navy. They made a pack and were going to go off together. Dad had to wait until he was 18 years old to join because Hattie would never let him go. So on that fateful day dad joined and his friend didn't. He ended up staying and selling cars. Dad left Las Cruces for California on the train with a suitcase of clothes. That's all he owned. On the trip he saw his first TV antennas on the roofs of the homes and wondered what they were. At 19 he was half way around the world fighting a war.
As a member of the United States Navy he was selected to be part of the Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) the forerunner to the Navy Seals. He served as team leader and communication specialist during the Korean War. Dad never talked much about his experiences when we were young but as we got older he shared a few stories. He had a bullet wound scar next to his heart. We noticed it growing up but every time we asked about it he would get a far away look in his eyes and walk away.
Dad always joked that he wasn't sure what test he failed to get into the UDT. He never looked at it as an honor. They selected him and he went into the jungle of Guam for training. He talked about his hand-to-hand combat instructor being a very tiny Japanese man that could move like lightning! One day the instructor asked someone to hit him as hard as they could and of course Dad volunteered (remember he learned the hard way) he swung at his instructor with everything he had and found himself on the ground with a paralyzed arm and a new found respect for Japanese martial arts.
One night, he and his team swam from Treasure Island in the San Francisco bay to the Federal Prison Alcatraz just for fun. Alcatraz was a fully functioning prison at the time with guards and active watchtowers.
Another time his team was at Treasure Island between deployments and they heard about some Marines training in the bay. During the Marines training exercises at night he and his team would swim out and turn their boats over and pull the marines out of their boats…just for fun. They never got caught BUT the base commander pulled them in and stated it needed to stop. These accidents only started happening when Dad's team showed up to the base.
Another San Francisco story, one night 3 of dad's team members came back to base all beat up and bruised. They had lost a fight. The story goes that 3 of the team members had been looking for a fight and found more than they could handle. So Dad being bound by team honor went to visit the man and settle the score. The man told dad he liked to fight! Dad accepted the challenge and he left the apartment with the team's honor avenged!
Dad's team really liked to drink and have a good time. Dad didn't drink he was the designated driver. He wanted to make sure they made it home due to some of their ill dispositions when drunk. Many times when he would go into the bars to collect the team members they point to dad and they would yell out to the bar "this man can beat any body in this bar!" Dad got into so many fights that he told his team that he wouldn't pick them up anymore.
During the Korean War, the team was stationed in Japan and one team member in particular loved to get drunk and then he would run through the rice paper walls of the homes. This event was funny (not for the home owners) until one day he hit the center post of the house and was knocked unconscious. Dad had to go in and carry him out with the family members yelling at him and throwing bamboo sticks and cabbage at him!
His missions would begin with a message to wait at a certain spot and then a plane would land, pick them up, they would do the mission, and then the plane would drop them back off and he would go on about his business.
Dad talks about playing games with King Cobras and Komodo Dragons during missions clearing out the pacific islands of Japanese solider remains, clearing out booby-traps left over and retiring the Japanese soldiers still on duty after WWII. He had a letter with the emperor of Japan's seal on it that he would deliver to the soldiers. Most Japanese Soldiers would accept the retirement, some would fight to the death, and still others offered Dad their samurai swords! He had to return all of their personal effects to Japan. He talks about bringing up Japanese gold off of sunken ships. The officers were there to check and make sure that he didn't steal any gold or personal affects. He wore just his shorts and a knife. He talked about working out truces with the local island chiefs to clear the hills of Japanese remains. He told his team that if they touched the local women they would be killed by the tribe. He talked about being released underwater from a sub, swimming into the harbor to blowup a target and then returning without being detected. When time came for his UDT team to break up, he told the team members out in the real world don't ever acknowledge me because I won't acknowledge you. I don't want to remember this part of my life. So if you see me on the street just keep walking.
After activity in the Pacific the Navy allowed him time in Hawaii before coming home. He loved to scuba dive. He would sit down on the ledge under water at Hanama Bay and watch the sharks swim by. He would even reach out and touch the sharks with one hand while holding a harpoon gun in the other hand. We almost lost dad when he rose up into a school of Portuguese Man of War. He said the pain was so intense that he passed out and if he had not been for his dive partner who pulled him out he would have drowned. It was in Hawaii that Dad really found his faith, he was weightlifting with a Church of Christ preacher and when the preacher could out-lift him he started listening to him. This made such an impact on dad that in later years he would be appointed an Elder at Westside Church of Christ where he served for 30 years. His common prayer was a plea that the world could settle disputes at the conference table not on the battlefield.
When he came back from the war to Las Cruces he received his college degree from NMSU. He had to take an elective PE course for his degree. So given his background he took swimming. The first day of class he bet the instructor that if he could swim all day then he wouldn't have to attend class for the rest of the semester and he would get an A. He won the bet! After the bet the instructor learned about his background and was sorry he made the bet. Following his release from the NAVY he was tracked by the FBI. This was due to his top-secret communication clearance. One day at NMSU a man approached him on the campus. The man knew who he was and verified his schedule of classes. The man disappeared…he was an FBI agent. When dad and mom got married they went on their honeymoon in Chihuahua…he had to report the trip to the FBI and report back when he returned. He interviewed for a job with he CIA, but he turned them down because they had to wear those grey suits.
In 1956 Richard married his high school sweetheart Ivogene Stout. Dad tells the story of mom dumping a glass of ice tea over his head because he tried to feed her a line! After they were married dad decided to train her in self-defense techniques. One day he was chasing her around the house and he cornered her. She knocked him out with a knee to the chin…no more training.
He went on to become the head athletic trainer for the University of Arizona, Abilene Christian College, and the University of New Mexico. At Arizona he introduced weight training to the athletic department. He talked about going down to the steel plant and picking out metal bars and circular pieces for weights. At Abilene, he had to teach the Life Saving classes for lifeguards (under strict supervision) to the women because they didn't allow "mixed bathing at that time." At UNM he was working on his PhD…ended up as an ABD. While in the program he found out that people were making more money without the degree so he left and came to El Paso as a biology teacher at Irvin High School, AP at Putnam Elementary, and a vocational counselor at Tech High School. While at Tech high school he started consulting with companies about management and sales practices. He eventually retired from the school business and became the general manager for Mack Massey Motors. He turned the company around and made it profitable. After a few years he retired from Mack's claiming "if I had to make a living at this I would go crazy!"
Growing up dad was always buying things and fixing them up. Ronald and dad bought countless used cars and motorcycles. They flipped them for a profit and continued on. We regularly received our Christmas presents from the pawnshop. Going to the pawnshops on Dyer Street was a highlight of our lives. We never passed up on the chance to rummage through the flea markets either. We especially loved the Five-Points flea market. One-day dad bought a motorcycle without telling mom and he covered it with a sheet in the garage. He was hoping she wouldn't notice! I went ahead and ratted him out to mom. We never heard mom and dad raise their voice to each other. Even in major disagreements. Another time, Dad brought home an old van that was used for caring batteries. He said the engine was great and that we could make our own motorhome! Well that project lasted until he was cutting a window hole and he almost sliced his finger off. After that the van went away.
Richlyn remembers riding with dad on the motorcycles and being scared to death and burning her leg one time. In Ruidoso dad was climbing a mountain on the motorcycle with Richlyn on the back…she was so scared that she was going to fall off and dad would lose her. Mom never rode the motorcycles.
Early on in our childhood we owned two sail boats. We would regularly go up to Elephant Butte to sail. We also went out to San Diego for sailing as well. We had fond memories of pimento cheese sandwiches and toasting them on the space heaters. We had a family tradition that whomever saw the Dam first had to eat a pimento cheese sandwich. We all hid our eyes every time. We spent a night out at sea during a storm but it really was at the lake so it wasn't that big of a storm. Another time the wind blew the boat over and we all went into the water except for dad. Dad stayed dry and rode the boat back up. I thought I was going to drown! I didn't go into the water for a year due to the trauma. One night our boat came loose in Del Rio from the mooring and we sailed into another boat and sank it. One Christmas we were in San Diego, I received a two gun holster set. I kept pulling the guns from the holster and spinning them in the air. Dad warned me that I would lose one in the water. A few minutes later I became one gun Willie!
Growing up, for every summer vacation we went on some sort of a trip in the motorhome! We longed for a time when we could hang Christmas tinsel from a tree and not the motorhome. We were always traveling – and we loved it!
We ate dinner every night at 6pm. No matter what was going on or what was happening we stopped and ate. Mom worked most of our lives as a teacher and yet somehow dinner was always on the table by 6. We also had an 8 o'clock bedtime. Even during the summer time we had to go to bed at 8. We could see our friends playing outside but we were going to bed.
Growing up if something happened at night we never woke dad up. We always went to mom's side of the bed. That was a little dangerous also so we eventually we just stood at the bedroom door and spoke to them until they woke up.
We went to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. I remember riding the "JOY" bus while dad drove picking up kids for church. I remember dad being the church camp director for a week each summer. So we had to go to summer camp. Dad was the first person I can honestly say couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. But he would belt out the songs every time. He would actually throw me off pitch sometimes when I was leading worship. The irony of this is that we were raised in a house filled with music because of mom. We always had people over to the house for meals and a lot that dad was counseling with and helping through their problems. He was always reading books dealing with the bible or church issues.
Richard is survived by his high school sweetheart (Ivogene Stout) 3 children and 7 grandchildren. Ronald Woods was born in Abilene Texas 1960. Ronald is married to Stacey and they have 2 children Ryan and Rebekah. Richlyn Woods was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico 1963. She has two children Jacob and Elise. Randall Woods was born in El Paso, Texas 1968. He is married to Rebekah and we have 3 children Brooklyn, Lilly, and Robert. Richard was preceded in death by one grandchild Reagan Woods.
Richard Woods from the Ashley's
Dearest Woods Family,
The Ashley family, your brothers and sisters in Christ, sends our words of comfort, love, and peace to you from San Diego, California. Our hearts are tender with you as you mourn the loss and as you celebrate the honorable life of Mr. Richard Woods.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all of our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we
ourselves have received from God."
2 Corinthians 1:4
When I think of Mr Richard, the words that come to mind are: Christian, Friend, Husband, Father, Papa, Elder, and Defender. I think of words like: committed, respected, standard of excellence and no tolerance for evil. He loved his wife, children and especially grandchildren- his eyes would twinkle when he saw his grandchildren.
Before we, the Ashley Family, met Richard and Ivogene, we met their children.
In 1990, my husband, Jon, and Ronald met as they worked with the youth group at "L" Street church of Christ in San Diego, California. Ronald, a pilot, and Jon, a scientist, were both men of integrity. I was thankful that my future husband, Jon, had a good friend like Ronald to spend time together.
I lived in Mississippi and Jon and Ronald lived in San Diego, California (I don't believe Stacey had joined Ronald yet in San Diego, CA).
Jon would call me after Ronald and Jon would attend church- with thrill and excitement in his voice- and tell me that he and Ronald had just returned from "Lolita's". I was very concerned asking who was"Lolita" and why were you with her!?!
As you can probably guess, "Lolita's" is a famous Mexican food restaurant! The Ashley and the Woods family have communed together partaking in Lolita's Mexican food for over 25 years.
"Good food and Good Friends" have always been a part of the Woods family.
A year later, Ronald was the best man in our wedding. Randall drove with Ronald from El Paso, Texas to Oxford, Mississippi. After Jon and I were married in 1991, Ronald and Stacey would come for visits to San Diego along with Richard and Ivogene, Randall, Rebekah and Richlyn. Richard and Ivogene would park their RV at the "J" Street Marina or on the Silver Strand in Coronado and enjoy the refreshing breezes and water of the Pacific Ocean.
As the years past, our families grew. Along came Jacob, Ryan, Rebekah, Elise, Addison, Savannah, Brooklyn, Robert and Lilly. Richard was so proud of each one of his grandchildren.
As we became parents, we valued our own parents more and more. Richard and Ivogene were always supportive of Ronald, Richlyn and Randall. No matter what unexpected joy or pain came their way. Richard and Ivogene were committed to family. Whenever Ronald had a "question mark" in his life, needing wisdom, Ronald requested and valued the wisdom of his Father, Richard Woods.
As all of you know, the Woods, love food, friends and fellowship. One of Richard Woods favorite places to eat was at The Spaghetti Factory in San Diego. He always loved to go early and beat the crowds. He would not tolerate being made to "wait" for his food. I remember eating at The Spaghetti Factory when Rebekah was pregnant with Brooklyn.
My favorite memory of us having Food and Fellowship together was Father's Day 2000 at our house in San Diego, California. We had grilled steak and shrimp, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, watermelon and garden salad- all cooked on the grill that Ronald and Stacey gave to us as "House Warming" gift. Jon's Daddy was also with us that year. I remember Jon's Daddy, Dave Ashley, a track coach, school counselor and previous Navy sailor talking very comfortably with Richard. For some random reason, I remember Randall and I standing at the kitchen sink, cleaning and putting the shrimp on the skewers for the grill. It was a very rich experience, all of us together- I treasure this moment.
*See Attached Picture (side note: we had been to Sea World and Ronald and Stacey bought the little stuffed animals for the Rebekah, Addison and Ryan).
Savannah, our daughter, was not in this picture because she was not born yet but her given name is SAVANNAH RICHLYN ASHLEY. We named her, a name Richard and Ivogene created, to honor our relationship with the Woods family.
Richard fought the good fight, he finished the race, he kept the faith.
Adapted from 2 Timothy 4:7
To prepare our children, Addison and Savannah, for their Grandfather Dave Ashley's departure from this earth, I proposed to them a question:
"If Grandfather could spend time with Jesus would you stop him?"
Of course, they answered "No".
They knew that our ultimate goal is to spend eternity with Jesus.
To encourage ourselves after their grandfather passed, we would simply state…
Grandfather has been with Jesus for 7 hours… 12 hours… 5 days… a week.
We know we would never want Mr. Richard to come back to his earthly body. We would never want him to suffer or to be in pain. So I write these words to the ones living on the earth. When your hearts long for him, remember the good times and remember Richard is well with Jesus.
I know that if Richard could speak to us, he would use the words of our brother Paul:
"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."
1. Continue in your study of God's Word, the Bible.
2. Continue building your relationship with our Savior Jesus.
3. Continue loving one another as God has loved us.
As we have discussed in the recent past, Mr. Richard, is not dead but has taken the next part of his journey and has passed into the next life. What a sight that must have been! As our merciful Lord and Savior has made a perfect plan for our life here on earth, Jesus has also made a perfect plan for our life with Him for eternity. This brings us great peace.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would not
have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I
go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be
with me that you also may be where I am.
Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so
how can we know the way?
Jesus answered, I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to
the Father except through me."
John 14: 1-7
We wish we could be with you today as you celebrate the life of Richard Woods. It moves my heart to think of you assembled together singing songs of worship, being encouraged by the friends and family around you, remembering all of the characteristics that made Richard Woods, a very unique and important person in our lives.
God is with you today, he has been with each of you your entire life. He sees every tear shed and God cares…
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away."
Two more verses to remind you of God's plan and love for you:
"Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death is your victory?
Where, O death is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you
know that your labor is not in vain."
1 Corinthians 15:54ff.
"The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine upon you
And be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."
We love you and will see you soon,
Jon, Brenda, Addison and Savannah Ashley
April 24, 2014