The children of Eldora Elizabeth Wood, 93, are sad to announce her death on October 17, 2018, in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Born in Kalona, Iowa, she was the daughter of Melvin and Anna Stutzman. Our mom lived an extraordinary life as a teacher, mother, homemaker, community volunteer and small business owner.
After attending school in Wellman, Iowa and one summer of teacher training at the Iowa Normal School for Teachers in Iowa City mom signed her first teaching contract in 1943. She taught grades one through eight in a one-room schoolhouse where her duties included not only teaching but also keeping the school and outhouse clean, the fire going in the wood stove when required, and manicuring the playground. In the summers she would travel with Mennonite missionaries to the gulf coast of Mississippi to teach in summer camps for children.
In 1952 she married Fred Wood, a widower, who brought with him to the marriage four children, Fred Jr., James, Jean, Marguerite. They decided they should have a few more and added George, William, Charles, and John. It was a challenge to blend two families, with some in diapers while others were in graduation gowns, and we often gave mom a run for her money. But we all remember her as doing her best to raise, support, and love each of us.
For some, raising so many children would be a full-time job. However, mom was always active in her community and a life-long learner. When we lived in Fenton, MI she was the president of the garden club and led the efforts to add flower gardens to public buildings including the library. When we moved to Pinehurst, NC in 1968 she took over directing The Women’s Exchange. Knowing that she had much to learn about running a small business, at the age of 45 she enrolled in business, finance, and marketing classes at Sandhills Community College. She also jumped into Pinehurst civic life serving on the boards of the Given Memorial Library and the Pinehurst Business Guild.
In 1978 she purchased The Potpourri Gift Shop in Pinehurst. When the owner of the building where the shop was located terminated her lease so a bank could move in, she and dad found the last available building space in Pinehurst and erected the Fred Wood Building on Market Street where the shop still operates, the longest running business in Pinehurst. She ran the shop on her own until 2011 when, at 87, she turned over daily management to her son, William.
Mom’s life stories are a history book of change and turmoil in America. As a child during the Great Depression she remembers that homeless wanderers would often be fed a meal and allowed to sleep in their barn for a day’s work. During WWII as Mennonites they were conscientious objectors and, even though her brother Russell served alternative service in military hospitals, their home was often vandalized and swastikas painted on their walls. Her teaching contracts stipulated that she could not be seen in the company of a single man, date, marry, or become pregnant. Her first car was a Ford Model A, bought for her by her father because in reverse it could climb most of the hills on the way to school; when it could not she could leave it in gear and get out to push it. As a business owner she resisted the computerization and electronic management of commerce, finding them impersonal. When encouraged by a sales representative to add computers and a web site so she could make more money she replied, ‘young man, who says I want to make more money?’
Eldora was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Fred, brother Russell, sister Gladys (Rodgers) and brother-in-laws Carl Rodgers and Jack Wood, sister-in-law Mary Wood, sons Fred Jr. and James, daughters-in-law Barb (Fred Jr.) and Jean (James), son-in-laws David Cooley (Jean) and James Dameron (Marguerite) and great grandchild Nicholas Jurgonski. She is survived by her children Jean (Cooley) of Black Lake, MI; Marguerite (Dameron) of Onoway, MI; George (Marcia Burchby) of Amesville, OH; William (Susan) of Pinehurst, NC; Charles (Kelli) of Tryon, NC; and John (Janet) of Senoia, GA; daughter-in-law Betty Wood; grandchildren Andrew Wood (Christine), Christopher Wood, Marilyn Jurgonski (John), Daniel Wood, Susan Wood, Ann Miller (Doug), Lynda Warner (John), Michael Wood, John Wood (Katelyn Eilbeck), Tina Alder (Mitch), Daniel Atkins, Matthew Sykes (Stephanie), Brandie Johnson (Randy), Morgan Wood, Abaigeal Wood, Tripp Wood, Jacob Wood, Mark Ayers, and Kristin Ayers Torres; great-grand children Connor Wood, Nathan Wood, Heather McCrey (Justin), Timothy Jurgonski, Anna Jurgonski, Katherine Wood, Claire Brenton (Shane), Peter Warner, Graham Warner, Nathan Warner, Gabriella Alder, Nicholas Adler, Lucas Alder, Sienna Atkins, Coen Sykes, Trinity Johnson, Charity Johnson, Elijah Johnson, Hudson Johnson; and great-great-grandchildren Malachi McCrey and Matthias McCrey. She is also survived by special friends Tom and Alana Stewart of Pinehurst and Margie and Till Lloyd of Taylortown, NC.
We want to thank all the residents of the Pinehurst area that would stop in to see mom at The Potpourri, she never called you her customers, she always said you were her friends. Also, thanks to the staff of Penick Village for their care of our mom during her final years.
A service to remember Eldora and all the gifts she gave to family and friends will be held on November 10 at 10:00 AM at the Given Memorial Library in Pinehurst, NC. In lieu of flowers and in honor of Eldora’s love of reading and commitment to others memorial gifts can be made to the Given Memorial Library, Eldora Wood Memorial Fund, Box 159, Pinehurst, NC, 28370.
Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines is serving the family.
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