Opal Fern Martin
b. 28 August 1916, d. 13 January 2017
- Father: Hiram Fredric Martin b. 7 May 1892, d. 18 January 1950
- Mother: Esther Mae Greenhill b. 16 December 1896, d. 24 March 1975
- Opal Fern Martin was born on 28 August 1916 in Hillsboro, Hill County, Texas.
- Hiram Fredric Martin registered for the draft on 5 June 1917 in Hill County, Texas, while living with his wife and baby [Opal] at RFD 2, five miles east of Hillsboro, self-employed there as a farmer.
- Hiram Fredric Martin and Esther Mae Greenhill appeared in the US federal census of 1 January 1920 in Hillsboro, Hill County, Texas, at 319 South Waco Street. Other members of the household included Opal Fern Martin, Bernice Wilford Martin.
- The Martin children were photographed in 1921 -- Opal, Margie and BW.
- A photographic portrait was made of Opal Fern Martin, about 1928.
- Hiram Fredric Martin and Esther Mae Greenhill appeared in the US federal census of 1 April 1930 in Hillsboro, Hill County, Texas, at 131 South Covington Street. Other members of the household included Opal Fern Martin, Bernice Wilford Martin and Margie Burnelda Martin. And there were two female boarders in the household.
- She married Claude Irvin Wood, son of Rush Brevard Wood and Claudia Gertrude Bay, on 1 June 1939 in Hillsboro, Hill County, Texas.
- Opal and Irvin Wood were photographed just before leaving on their wedding trip, June 1939.
- Claude Irvin Wood and Opal Fern Martin appeared in the US federal census of 1 April 1940 in Grimes County, Texas.
- The following appeared on 10 July 1941 in The Brownsville Herald: (Edcouch) Mr. and Mrs. Irving Wood have departed for their home at Navasota following a visit here with an aunt, Mrs. J. M. Cellum, and family.
Mrs. J. M. Cellum and daughters, Barbara Key and Johnnye Beth, are spending a month in Brownsville.
- Irvin and Opal's children Rush, Patricia and Larry were photographed about 1947 with their cousin Warren Wood.
- A photographic portrait was made of Irvin and Opal Wood, about 1950.
- A photographic portrait was made of Opal and Irvin Wood in 1982.
- Opal and Irvin Wood celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1989.
- The following appeared in The Navasota Examiner: Funeral services for Claude Irvin Wood, 81, a lifelong resident of Grimes County, were held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 26, at the First United Methodist Church of Navasota. The Rev. Bill Dugger officiated. Cynthia Todd was vocal soloist, and Dennis Boring served as organist.
Interment was in Fairview Cemetery near Richards under the direction of Nobles Funeral Chapel.
Mr. Wood died at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 23, at his residence. He was born in Richards June 30, 1909, the third of five children of Claudia Bay Wood and Rush Brevard Wood, one of the first merchants in Richards who later served as Grimes County clerk.
Mr. Wood was a 1926 graduate of Richards High School. On June 1, 1939, he married Opal Fern Martin of Hillsboro. The Woods made their home in Richards where he worked in the grocery business before becoming postmaster. He served 25 years in the postal service as postmaster in Richards, postmaster counselor and rural carrier. After retirement in 1977, he became associated with Herterberger Chevrolet-Buick in Navasota.
Mrs. Wood was a school teacher, serving 21 years as head of the homemaking department at Navasota High School. She retired in 1980.
Mr. Wood, a descendant of Gen. Solomon Wood, who was credited with distinguished service in the Revolutionary War, was a member of the First United Methodist Church, the Sons of the American Revolution, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Noon Lions Club of Navasota, and the American Association of Retired People.
His many civic activities included serving on the Grimes County United Fund board as a director from Richards, and serving on the County's Price Control Board during World War II. He was a past treasurer of the First Methodist Church of Richards and of Fairview Cemetery Association. Mr. Wood was noted for his knowledge of Grimes County history and was frequently called upon as a resource in this area. Preceding him in death were a brother, J. B. Wood, in 1915, his father in 1939, and his mother in 1963.
Surviving are three sons and daughters-in-law, Larry Wood of Dallas, Rush and Louise Wood of Beaumont, and Reed and Janet Wood of Houston; one daughter, Patricia Wood of Navasota; grandchildren, Tyson, 23; Jason, 20; Melissa, 18; and Eva Wood, 17, of Beach Haven Park, N.Y. [sic], and Glenn, 18; Paige, 16; Clint, 10; and Wrynn Wood, 7, of Houston; sisters, Mary Eula Jones of Galena Park and Gertrude Dostal of Richmond; along with numerous nieces and nephews.
Pallbearers were Jason Wood of Beach Haven Park, N.Y. [sic], Glenn Wood and Campbell Wood Jr., both of Houston, Max Ray Brewer Jr. of Waco, Ira E. "Bud" Haynie and Warren Wood, both of Anderson, Jeff Haynie and Bill Hertenberger, both of Navasota.
Honorary pallbearers were Wayne Boring of San Felipe, John Francklow of Shiro, J.P. Hicks of Richards, Lester Keisler of Anderson, Jody Harris of Galena Park, Dan Skelton of Montgomery, Sonny Ayres, Mike Dilorio, Lou Hertenberger, Carroll Kennard, Charles Kooken, William Albert Miller, Hugh Robison and Willie Shive, all of Navasota.
- The following appeared in The Navasota Examiner: Opal Martin Wood of Navasota, widow of Irvin Wood, celebrated her 90th birthday with a grand party on Saturday, the 5th of August 2006, hosted by her children Reed, Rush, Larry and Patricia Wood. Opal came to Grimes County as a fledgling teacher in 1939 with her degree in homemaking education and taught generations of students in Grimes County schools over a period of 34 years -- 13 in Richards and 21 in Navasota.
To begin the celebration, upon arrival in Navasota on Friday evening, August 4th, some fifty members of Opal's family from out of town gathered with her for supper and an evening of visiting at the Wrangler Steak House east of town.
On Saturday afternoon, in the Fellowship Hall of the First United Methodist Church in Navasota, nearly 200 friends and family members gathered to pay tribute to this very special person. The hall was gaily beribboned and decorated with live flowers of chosen colors. The lovely and delicious three-tier cake baked by Wilma Carroll was enjoyed by all to the last crumb. Juanita Shive coordinated the event, assisted by members of the church hospitality committee, which included Joyce Jackson, Cissy Smith, Cheryl Gilbert, Cynthia Todd, Don Lemon and Charles Jackson. Also assisting were Jessie Brown, Janice Ayres, Beth Falco and Verona Orlando.
Renditions of some nostalgic songs were presented by Judith LaFontaine, accompanied on the piano by Janna DuRand. By Opal's request, Judith sang one verse of "Memories” followed by "It Was a Very Good Year.” One of Opal's first memories is the song, "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles,” and during its performance everyone filled the room with beautiful bubbles. "Five-Foot Two, Eyes of Blue,” which thrilled Opal as a petite blue-eyed teenager, was enlivened by a dance by Juanita Shive. And as the grand finale, Cynthia Todd led the party in singing "Happy Birthday.”
The highlight of the event was the presentation of a Memory Book, created by her grandchildren & great-grandchildren, bursting with photographs, pictures and personal notes about their special times with Opal.
On Saturday evening, family gathered at Martha's Bloomers restaurant for a lovely dinner hosted by Reed Wood.
Opal's children and their families attending from out of town included Larry Wood of Miami Beach, FL; Reed & Janet Wood of Kingwood and their children Glenn & Michele Wood and two sons of Colorado Springs, CO; Paige & Ron May and son of Dallas; Wrynne & Scott Homann of Houston; and Clint Wood of Dallas; Rush Wood & wife Louise of Beaumont and his children Jason & Cathy Wood and two daughters of San Diego, CA; Melissa & Rich Leyh and three daughters of Manahawkin, NJ; and Eva Rhoades and her son and friend Bob, of Beach Haven Park, NJ. Unable to attend were Army Chaplain Tyson & Jennifer Wood and two daughters of Columbia, MD.
Other family attending from out of town included Opal's nephew, Max Brewer, and Sissie, Hallie and Victoria of Waco; Gertrude Wood Dostal of Rockdale, sister of Opal's husband Irvin Wood; Reggie Boring of Oakland, TN; Nita Jean of Austin; Wayne & Carol Boring of Bremond; Holly & Brent Burton and two children of Sealy; Heather & Bill Ondruch and five children of Sealy; Gloria Skelton of Walden, Campbell & Sonie Wood of Sarasota, FL; Warren Wood & Jackie Reynolds of Dennard, AR; Sam & Peggy Wood of Beaumont; and Bill Wood & Elsa Vorwerk of Cumberland, MD. Grimes County family attending included Tom & Susie Haynie, T.J. Haynie and Ira "Bud” Haynie.
- A joyful Opal was photographed at grandson Clint's wedding in 2009.
- Opal was photographed with daughter Patricia during the 2011 Christmas holidays.
- Opal celebrated her100th birthday was celebrated with a host of family and friends.
- The following appeared on 29 August 2016 in The Observer: Opal Wood sat in her suite at Rosemont Assisted Living in Atascocita and smiled as she spoke of her life’s adventures involving a host of characters from U.S. presidents to the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde.
Wood was born Aug. 28, 1916. To celebrate her birthday, Rosemont Assisted Living threw her a luau-themed party Aug. 26. Rosemont residents, staff and Wood’s family convened in her honor, bedecked with Hawaiian leis.
Even at the age of 100, Wood’s stories were elaborately detailed and full of gestures.
“I had a girlfriend a grade above me who was in debate,” Wood said. “She wanted me to debate too. I came out for the debate and I get up to do my speech, but I was very stiff. Finally, someone says, ‘You have to add a little movement; some hand gestures."
“It wasn’t too long before I got in the habit of speaking with hand gestures and I’ve been doing ever since. After my husband and I were married, and even retired, we did some group traveling. One day, we were enjoying time with friends. I was talking and my husband reached out and grabbed my hands because he said he didn’t think I could talk if I couldn’t use my hands.”
Wood was born and raised in Hillsborough, Texas, and has always had a love of education. Because she excelled at so many different subjects, teachers took special interest in Wood and she was offered a teaching assistant position her junior year of high school.
“I loved my teachers when I was young,” Wood said. “When I went from the first to the second grade, I wanted to be a second grade teacher. When I got to the third grade, I wanted to be a third grade teacher.”
Not surprisingly, Wood grew up and became a teacher. She taught for a total of 34 years.
“At first, I thought ‘I’m going to be an old maid school teacher,” Wood said. “’I’m not going to get married and I’m not going to have any children.’ But, before my first year was out, I had met my husband and we got engaged. School was over the last week in May. We married the first day of June.”
Wood and her husband, Irvin Wood, decided to move to Richards, Texas, about an hour northwest of Humble.
They had four children. Since then, the family has expanded to include eight grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.
“Grandma is probably one of the hardest workers we’ve ever known,” Paige May, Wood’s granddaughter said. “She is always super involved with all of her grandkids. She was a school teacher and I don’t think she’s ever forgotten a student she taught. Her memory is amazing. She’s gone on vacations with us and she still can tell us where we ate, what we ate and what we did.”
Wood can regale people with stories about the time Bonnie and Clyde wreaked havoc in her hometown, or when she attended campaign speeches of presidents Calving Coolidge and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Her most recent encounter with a president was when George W. Bush was campaigning for his second term as the governor of Texas.
“When he finished his speech, he stepped off the platform and people started going up and shaking his hand,” Wood said. “When he took my hand, he looked at me with a very puzzled expression and said, ‘You look just like my mother.’ My dress was like the blue one Mrs. Bush usually wore. Somebody else in the audience said, ‘Where are your pearls?’”
Just as Wood’s memories stay strong in her mind; so too will her family’s memories of her.
“Growing up with her, I remember lots of good food,” Reed Wood, Wood’s son, said. “And if I ever thought I was too sick to go to school; I was too sick to play football. Mostly, I remember her always being there for us when we needed her. She is very open, friendly and compassionate. Reaching 100 has been a goal of hers and now that she’s achieved it, she’s already setting new goals.”
Wood has been living at the Rosemont since 2011.
In addition to her family, Wood has made an impression on the Rosemont staff as well.
“Opal is a very wise lady,” Sophia Johnson-Bell, Rosemont activities director, said. “She is very humorous and always has some sort of joke to tell about her past. She is very quick-witted and just a wonderful person. She loves her family, she loves her grandchildren. She’s proud of her age. She says, ‘Yes, I am an old lady. I’m 99 and I’m going to be 100.’ We’re really happy to be able to throw this party for her. She’s a lovely lady to be around and it’s been an honor to get to know her.”.
- Opal Fern Martin died on 13 January 2017 at age 100 in Kingwood, Harris County, Texas, at her residence, The Rosemont, with her daughter Patricia at her side.
- She was buried at Fairview Cemetery in Grimes County, Texas, near Richards.
- A single grave marker identifies the graves of Claude Irvin Wood and Opal Fern Martin.
- The following appeared on 18 January 2017 in The Examiner: Mrs. Opal Fern (Martin) Wood passed away Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, at The Rosemont Assisted Living in Atascocita at the age of 100 years, four months and three weeks. Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the First United Methodist Church of Navasota with the Rev. Jeremy Woodley officiating. Interment will follow in Fairview Cemetery in Richards. Arrangements are under the direction of Nobles Funeral Chapel.
Opal was born on Aug. 28, 1916, in Hillsboro, the daughter of Hiram and Esther (Greenhill) Martin. She was raised there and graduated from Hillsboro High School. She then attended Hill Junior College and graduated from Texas Woman’s University in 1938. With dreams of becoming a teacher beginning when she was in first grade, she accepted her first position in Richards where she met her future husband. Opal and Irvin Wood married on June 1, 1939. Mrs. Wood continued teaching for 34 years in Richards and Navasota. After retirement, the couple enjoyed group traveling and spending time with their children and grandchildren. She and Irvin, a former postmaster in Richards, were married 51 years before his death in 1990.
Mrs. Wood was a longtime member of First United Methodist Church in Navasota and Richards. She was also active in various teachers’ and retired teachers’ organizations, music study clubs and the Navasota Garden Club.
Opal had been a resident of The Rosemont since 2011. Relatives and friends gathered in Kingwood on Aug. 28, 2016, to celebrate her 100th birthday. Well-wishers hailed from across Texas, with children and grandchildren traveling from California, Colorado, Florida and New Jersey for the occasion.
Mrs. Wood was preceded in death by her husband, Irvin; her parents; her sister, Margie Brewer; and brothers, B.W. and James Martin.
Survivors include her children, Larry Wood of Miami, FL; Patricia Wood, also of The Rosemont; Rush Wood and his wife, Louise, of Beaumont; and Reed Wood and his wife, Janet, of Kingwood. Grandchildren include Reed’s children, Glenn Wood and his wife, Michelle, of Colorado Springs, CO; Paige May and her husband, Ron, of Kingwood; Clint Wood and his wife, Carol, of Houston; and Wrynn Homann and her husband, Scott, of Kingwood. Other grandchildren are Rush’s children, Eva Corliss and her husband, Bob, of Beach Haven Park, NJ; Jason Wood and his wife, Ruth, of San Diego, CA; Melissa Roberts and her husband, Scott, of Manihawkin, NJ; and Chaplain Lt. Col. Tyson Wood and his wife, Jennifer, of Carlisle, PA, and their mother, the Rev. Linda Fawley Wood of Beach Haven Park, NJ.
Great-grandchildren include Ethan, Jay and Brie Wood of Colorado Springs, CO; Preston, Chase and Tucker May of Kingwood; Dayton Wood of Houston; Sadie and Beckett Homann of Kingwood; C.J. Rhoades of Beach Haven Park, NJ; Carly and Claire Wood and their mother, Cathy Wood, of San Diego, CA; Abigail, Madeline and Grace Leyh and Austin Roberts of Manahawkin, NJ; and Emily, Casey and Ian Thomas Wood of Carlisle, PA.
Additional survivors include her sister-in-law, Gertrude Dostal of Austin, and many nieces and nephews.
Serving as pallbearers are Glenn Wood, Clint Wood, Jason Wood, Ron May, Scott Homann and Tom Haynie.
Memorial contributions may be made to The First United Methodist Church of Navasota or the Navasota Public Library.
- A service of memory and thanksgiving was held for Opal Fern Wood at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, 17 January 2017, at the First Methodist Church of Navasota. Words of grace and a message of hope were delivered by Rev. Jeremy Woodley, and the 23rd Psalm was read by Opal’s granddaughter Paige May. Pianist Gail Cox provided music for the service, and all joined in singing two of Opal’s favorite hymns, “Amazing Grace” and “In the Garden.” Rain did not dampen the spirit of the celebration, and following a stately procession to Fairview Cemetery near Richards, Opal was conveyed to her resting place next to her beloved husband Irvin. Following the service at Fairview, family and friends returned to the church for fellowship and a lovely meal, prepared and served by the ladies of the church, with whom Opal had worked in that very kitchen for so many years. It was a beautiful day honoring a beautiful person.
- Last Edited: 27 Feb 2017
- Charts: Descendants of ABERCROMBIE Charles & Edwina Malinda "Dicey" Booth, Descendants of LeGRAND John & Margaret Chambers, Descendants of TEAGUE Joshua, Descendants of WOOD William & Lydia Ballentine