"Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:6-8 After living a full and productive life, long-time Houston resident Earl G. Woods passed away on January 20, 2014 at the age of 91. His...
"Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:6-8
After living a full and productive life, long-time Houston resident Earl G. Woods passed away on January 20, 2014 at the age of 91. His 68-year marriage to his loving wife Audrey was truly a "love-at-first-sight" story. They met in New York during WWII and after only a few months of dating were married in San Diego where our dad was stationed at the Naval Air Station. Picture a petite twenty-year old Audrey traveling on a train filled with servicemen and traveling solo from New York with a bottle of champagne to meet her Navy man-at least this is how we were told the story. We often wonder if that clued our dad in on her fierce determination. Now we also wonder if our mother clued in from this story how unflappable her husband would be. During one night as they were sleeping in their bed in the barracks, my mother thought Daddy was playing with her feet. All we know is that our dad, as the story goes, reached under the sheet with his hand and grabbed something and tossed it toward the wall. The next morning they awoke to find a dead mouse at the doorway.
Our dad, together with his brother Vernon and like so many other young men at the time, heeded the call to defend the United States and protect our nation during WWII. Several members of the family have visited the USS Arizona Memorial where Vernon is entombed. Dad had training at the Aviation Ordnancemen's School in Norman, OK and as a naval air gunner in Purcell, OK. Our dad proudly served from January 1943 through March 1946. His brother William (Uncle Duke) also served in the Navy during the Korean War.
Dad talked very little about his service. "I did what I needed to do" was his usual refrain when asked. However, a few years back he got out his cherished photos and we learned more about those years, helping us to piece together the puzzle of how our parents met. He was stationed in New York to travel up and down the east coast watching for German activity. He was also stationed for a time in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil doing the same mission. Our eyes widened as he described the straddled position he would take when operating the guns and how he could see the land beneath him through the holes in the plane's floor. Our dad passed on to us that love and duty to our country and why our family, in lieu of flowers, has chosen the Paralyzed Veterans of America or the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, Inc., to honor our father. His internment will be at the Houston National Cemetery.
In all of their 68-years of marriage, it was crystal clear that Earl and Audrey remained in love with one another. They never missed each other's birthdays, anniversaries or Valentine's Day-even if it was just a card. They were truly one. And as my brother and I quickly learned, they were such a "oneness" that we did not get to use, "Well, Mommy said" or "Daddy said." It didn't matter which one you asked, you would always be told to ask the other parent. Collaboration between the two of them about raising each of us was a given. As Audrey, our mother, affirms, "Earl is a very good, caring, loving man". During their marriage, my brother and I came to see our parents demonstrate that "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 7
Our dad matched words with deeds. He did set high, but achievable standards and did, indeed, teach us by doing. In his judgment, when he did observe a wrong doing, he helped you come to that conclusion on your own by how he responded. With carefully selected words or an assignment he had you complete, you got the point -- the lesson was learned. "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6
Dad came from a large family and outlived all of his sisters and brothers. In addition to his wife, son, daughter and two granddaughters, he is survived by his sister-in-law, several nieces and their families and friends. After his sister died this past summer, he would often comment about turning 91. He seemingly knew that was his number, dying a few weeks after his birthday. By his lead, even in death, our dad continued to teach. We learned the virtues of dignity and grace.
From the love of Earl and Audrey came two children. I was their first born, Sharon. I was born 10 days after their wedding date--5 years later. Gotcha! But that is how dad and Mom liked to tell it. Kenneth, their second child, was born 3 years later. Dad was now a family man in the truest since of the word. He was a provider, protector, leader and teacher, daily demonstrating acceptance of those roles. As the scripture reads at the start of this tribute, he was about virtuous living. He served as a church usher and on several church capital campaigns in some of the Methodist churches in the cities in which we lived.
We moved approximately every two years and nine months to coincide with the school year. These moves resulted from our dad's job transfers. These cities included Shreveport, LA; Marshall, TX; Livonia, MI and Beaumont, TX. In February 1964, there was one last move to Houston, TX. It was then our dad made a commitment to us that we would be here until we graduated from high school. You know, he didn't understand why I needed to go back to Beaumont to visit my eighth grade friends after just moving to Houston, but he was sensitive enough to let me go on a Greyhound Bus. Of course, in that protector role, it was only after I was seated right behind the driver and the driver agreed to watch out for me. Our dad was also a man of his word. He turned down two job promotions so that my brother and I could graduate from attending a single high school for all four years. He had integrity.
As my brother observed, he gave us guidance for developing a strong map for following a moral code of truth, honesty, and a focus on the good in life. Our dad didn't stop there; he guarded against any threats to these values. For example, when we moved from Beaumont to Houston, our dad researched school districts before selecting where we would purchase a home. He quietly monitored who our friends were and the activities in which we were involved. As his son Kenneth commented, our dad was True North before the use of this expression was conceived and defined. Kenneth loved his father and talked to him weekly. Ken lives daily with the thoughts of his father, as he has always, since leaving home to lead his life. He is ever grateful of the solid foundation and moral code that his father provided him. "The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. " Proverbs 23:24
He has left this legacy for two generations as our dad became Papa to two granddaughters, Brittany and Brooke. He so loved being Papa to them. He never asked when that would happen though. He was content to have his grand-dog while patiently waiting twelve years for the first grandchild to arrive. You know when you see the family pictures that he was thrilled, even when holding a shrieking 5-week old. While his granddaughters often commented that Papa didn't say much, they always knew he was there. Perhaps it is only fitting that daddy always sat in a chair at a point in a room where he could quietly observe everything. Papa epitomized that commercial, "When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen".
As mentioned, our dad was a quiet man so you don't know behind those blue eyes if he was quietly problem solving. Like did our dad consciously choose to help his New Yorker wife become Southern, simply by having a family member from Mississippi, someone from Louisiana, and someone from Texas? We do know problem solving and connecting the dots are two of his strengths. He worked for Burroughs Corporation, one of eight major American computer companies at the time. He was involved in data processing and was responsible for those first computers that lined the walls of a room – the mainframe computer. He even built his own oscilloscope, an instrument used to observe the change of electrical signal over time. We just remember "that thing" with a green background and rows of wavy lines going across it.
Daddy modeled for us the meaning of life-long learning. He was in his late 70's or early 80's when he got his first personal computer at the house. He was self-taught on how to use it and was truly intrigued by how something so small could do the work of a whole room. While he didn't really use the smart phone, he was fascinated by its "smartness" and thoroughly enjoyed learning how it worked from his granddaughter. Brittany helped him learn how to play DVD's on his computer and he was hooked, including watching his new-found interest, Duck Dynasty. He kept up with the times. He and his son Kenny would have many in-depth conversations on a variety of topics. Even when your opinion differed from his, he promoted that independent thought.
"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2: 3-4
While not the most avid sportsman, our dad played football in high school, hunted and fished (while careful never to take more than he could use) and golfed as much as he could. He regularly watched boxing on Friday nights and professional football on Sundays on television. I wonder if my brother and I would love football as we do if we had had another television? Our dad also loved spending time during summers in his home in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He would dabble in a little of this and a little of that. Dad especially loved fresh tomatoes and was thrilled whenever you gifted him with those big, juicy, sun-ripened ones from a garden.
It wouldn't be fitting to end this tribute without sharing the family togetherness we developed as the result of all those summer road trips to New York. Our dad made sure to vary the route so we could learn more about America. Those trips were great fun. However, my mother and I weren't thrilled when he would say "over the next hill" when we needed to use the bathroom. His idea of "over the next hill" sometimes didn't match our urgency. On one trip, in his quiet way, he gave everlasting meaning to "your eyes are bigger than your stomach." I had selected too much food in the cafeteria line. However, he patiently waited, not so much my brother, until I ate all of what I had chosen! Believe me, that lesson is emblazoned in my stomach. Typical of most brothers and sisters, we wanted to pick the same side in the backseat. While I tried to switch sides each time we started out, it never turned out that way. So each trip there I was in the backseat watching my dad smoke his cigar and chew the tip. Now remember during the time of our road trips, the car was not air-conditioned. You are ahead of me. Yes, I would always be yelling "duck" when he needed to take care of the cigar juice out his window. My brother learned to duck, too, for if the wind was blowing just right….
A loving husband, guiding father, and a caring Papa, this is Earl G. Woods. We thank God for granting him such a long-life to model for us all how to be a provider, protector, leader, teacher and so much more. Our lives are enriched in multiple ways. We love you dearly Earl, Dad, Papa. You are now home with our heavenly Father.
All our love, Audrey, Sharon, Kenneth, Brittany and Brooke
My life is but a weaving, between my God and me;?I do not chose the colors, He worketh steadily.?Oft times He weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride?Forget He sees the upper, and I the under side.?Not til the loom is silent, and shuttles cease to fly?Will God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why?The dark threads are as needful in the skillful Weaver's hand?As threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.
Family and friends gathered with Reverend Scott Endress, D.Min., to celebrate this wonderful man's life at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, January 27, 2014, in the chapel of Waltrip Funeral Directors, 1415 Campbell Road in Houston.
Following a brief reception, all were invited to attend committal services at 1:30 p.m. at Houston National Cemetery, where the Veterans of Foreign Wars District #4 Honor Guard, rendered military honors.
As you read earlier, in lieu of flowers and usual remembrances, a contribution in memory of Earl would be greatly appreciated to: *Paralyzed Veterans of America at PVA: Donation Processing Center, P.O. Box 758532, Topeka, KS 66675-8532, (800) 555-9140, or on line at, https://www.supportvets.org/0410wallofheroes/landing.cfm
or if you prefer, *Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, Inc., 7008 Little River Turnpike, P.O. Box 49 Annandale, VA 22003, (703) 256-6139, or on line at, http://www.mophsf.org/Donate/