Paul Whaley Wood

Paul Whaley Wood, the son of Samuel Eldred Wood Jr. and Mary (Mamie) Rose Youree Whaley, was born in the home of his grandparents, Paul Goodwin Whaley and Nancy Austin, in Marshall on Feb. 24, 1921. His paternal grandparents were Samuel Eldred Wood Sr. and Martha Callaway. He attended Marshall public schools and received an AB degree from Kemper Military Institute where he enjoyed playing on the college football, tennis and swimming teams. He briefly attended SMU and East Texas Baptist University.

In 1941, anticipating the coming war, he and Albert Abraham drove straight through from Marshall to Ontario, Calif. to attend flying school. After Pearl Harbor he was transferred from Fort Stockton, Calif., to Langley Field, Va., where he was stationed during most of the war. While there he piloted patrol aircraft over the Atlantic seaboard, and was a test pilot for new aircraft. During the war he married Constance Key, daughter of Edmund Key Jr. and Rae Lyttleton, both of Marshall.

In 1948 he purchased Wood Motor Company from his father, a dealer and regional distributor for the Chrysler Corporation. He later added dealerships in Rambler/American Motors, BMW-Isetta, Surrey, Fiat, Jeep, Simca, Checker and several other makes of cars. His career was distinguished by many years serving as a director of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association. Love of boating led to numerous dealerships in the marine world, including Chris-Craft, Johnson, Mercury and later Chrsyler Marine. His piloting experience led to becoming the Mooney Aircraft dealer for Northeast Texas and with his adventuresome spirit he naturally became one of the pioneer Honda motorcycle dealers in the United States. He was a founder and original director of the Texas Motorcycle Dealers Association and in due course became an Esther Williams Swimming Pool, RV, go-kart, mo-ped, Vespa, and Hookah-floating/diving device dealer. Fortunately, he was blessed to have for many years the aid and assistance of Marie Henderson, office manager; Sam Whitener, sales manager; Ralph Burke, service manager; Pat Bailey, motorcycle manager and Candy Boaze, office manager.

An avid boater he spent much time on Lake O' the Pines, Caddo Lake and Fern Lake. At Toledo Bend Reservoir he was a partner in formation of the Pendleton Harbor Marina and development. He was proud to point out and illustrate on maps his traversal of much of the intracoastal waterway from Chesapeake Bay to Port Isabel, near the Mexican border. He led many family trips up and down the Red, Quachita and lower Mississippi Rivers in all manner of fast motor craft. A career begun in his pre-teens buying and trading quarter horses continued with life-long interest and activity with quarter-horses and Shetland ponies, carriages, buggies and all manner of horse drawn transport. During infrequent snow and ice-storms he could be found pulling all of the neighborhood children, riding every sort of contraption, behind his horse and buggy. His passion for transport and travel made him a well known and frequent contributor to Departments of Public Safety, nationwide, for his many unofficial public road speed records.

He was an avid golfer and longtime member of Marshall Lakeside Country Club. There he gained prominence with his brother Sam, for their public wrestling exhibitions held frequently and unannounced on many of the greens and tee boxes at that facility. Pride in his home town included a long time participation in civic affairs, serving as the founding president of the Marshall Club in the old Hotel Marshall and Rotary Club membership, where he enjoyed meeting and making friends at local chapters throughout the country.

His public service was highlighted with an award of lifetime membership, along with good friend, Charlie Flowers, in the Chamber of Commerce. Congenial, gregarious and a natural salesman he knew and enjoyed everyone in Marshall and likely knew more about their families and background than the person themself. He had an anecdote and a humorous story about every event, you couldn't name a town where he didn't know someone and it was impossible to leave his presence without a twinkle in your eye and a smile in your heart because you knew you'd just met someone who genuinely loved people and relished their company. He was fun. One activity and pursuit which gave him great pride and satisfaction was following Joe Mott as president of the Central East Texas Fair and Livestock Exposition which was for years the favorite and most widely attended event in Harrison County. He appreciated its unique contribution as a chance to showcase, recognize and reward the talents, pursuits and trades of farmers, ranchers, students, teachers, schools, homeowners and craftspeople.

He and local resident J.D. Ratcliff operated ice plants and fish processing plants in Manaus, Brasil; Bluefields, Nicaragua, where they owned a fleet of shrimp boats and Peten, Guatemala. He helped found and was an original board member of the former People's State Bank of Marshall and was a president and chairman of the board of the First National Bank of Center. He continued his mother and father's love and dedication to the First United Methodist Church by being a lay delegate, for many years to the Texas State Conference and serving and contributing to the church for most of his life.

He served as president of the Scottsville Cemetery Association, Bettie Scott Youree Foundation and the Youree Trust (founded by Mary Rose Austin and her husband H.H. Youree, and his aunt Bettie Scott with her husband, Peter Youree) and as the official raconteur of the history and lore of the cemetery where he was well known for lively and picturesque historical reminiscences.

He was survived by his wife Dr. Martha McClendon Wood and her children, Nancy Laine of San Antonio, Eddie Neal of Waxahachie, Carl David Neal of Midlothian and Dr. Douglas Neal of Oak Grove, Missouri. He was preceded in death by Constance Key, his wife of over fifty years, with whom he had four children, Paul S. Wood of San Francisco, Edmund R. Wood of Marshall, Mary Constance Wood of Austin and Scott K. Wood of Austin. He is survived by one grandson Robert Andrew Wood and a great granddaughter Alyse Wood of Wimberly. His nephew, William Matson Wood and wife, Kathy McClatchy Wood live in Marshall where they raised their two daughters Mary and Kathryn. His niece Nancy Key and husband Tom Allin also live in Marshall. He is survived by his sister, Nancy Rose Wood Fair and her three children, Robert Wood Fair, Allen Whaley Fair and Virginia Rice Gowin, all of Tyler. Pallbearers will be Robert Wood Fair, Tyler; Allen Whaley Fair, Tyler; Tom Allin, Marshall; Philip Knox Key, Austin; Richard K. Dulaney, Fort Worth; and Edmund K. Burton, Marshall Honorary pallbearers will be Dr. J.P. Graves, Marshall; and C.M. Beckett, Marshall Services will be noon Saturday, April 1, 2006, at First Methodist Church with the Rev. Joel McMahon officiating. Interment will follow in Scottsville Cemetery. Downs Funeral Home

Published in The Marshall News Messenger on 4/1/2006.