Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Former Tucumcari superintendent marks 100th

 

February 17, 2015

Horace Wood expresses thanks to the city for proclaiming Friday as Horace Ward Day, honoring Ward’s 100th birthday. Mayor Robert Lumpkin, right, presented the award proclamation to Wood at Thursday’s Tucumcari City Commission meeting.

link Horace Wood expresses thanks to the city

for proclaiming Friday as Horace Wood Day,

honoring Ward’s 100th birthday. Mayor

Robert Lumpkin, right, presented the award

proclamation to Wood at Thursday’s

Tucumcari City Commission meeting.

By Steve Hansen

QCS Managing Editor

Horace Wood used a walker to get to the podium Thursday, but he needed no help in a projecting to the commission chamber a short speech thanking the Tucumcari City Commission for a proclamation naming Sunday, his 100th birthday, as Horace Wood Day.

In his talk, he quoted a friend who recently told him, “Mr. Wood, you know, 100 will be easy. Ninety-nine is the problem.”

On the eve of his 100th birthday, however, he said 99 really wasn’t that much of a problem.

On Sunday, friends and relatives of Wood filled the Liberty Room of the Tucumcari Convention Center to honor the new centenarian with cake and punch.

Wood held court as a steady stream of relatives, friends and neighbors stopped by his table to shake hands and wish him well.

When asked what his secret for longevity was, he said, “Get up one more day. One good day leads to another.”

From 1969 to 1978, Wood served as superintendent of Tucumcari Schools, culminating an education career that began in 1940.

He taught sixth and seventh grade at Logan as his first job after graduating from the New Mexico Normal University, now New Mexico Highlands University, in Las Vegas. He then moved to Moriarty to coach and teach social studies to high school students.

He interrupted that career in 1942 by volunteering to join the U.S. Navy.

In 1943 and 1944, he served as a physical fitness instructor among16,000 sailors and Seabees on Kodiak Island, Alaska. The base always remained combat-ready, Wood said.

After the war, he became a teacher and coach in San Jon until he was named superintendent of Tucumcari schools in 1969.

Retired since 1978, he said, he has spent much of that time traveling.

He and his wife, Helen, who died in 2007, traveled all over the “lower 48” United States, in Mexico, in Canada and through Canada to Alaska, he said.

They were members of a “Tucum-Sam” club dedicated to travel.

That club gets together once in a while, he said, to “meet and eat.”

Traveling?

“We all got too old,” he said.

They traveled, he said, because they were “just curious.”

Wood’s daughter, Sue Gholson of Tucumcari, and a nephew, Michael Wood, said Wood has done plenty of walking has eaten a lot of fish and apples, now considered healthy practices.

“He used to be an avid fisherman,” Mike Wood said of his uncle.

Mike Wood recalls his uncle as “always on the go.”

Gholson attributes her father’s long life to “good clean living, God’s good grace and good children.”

Fish and apples, she said have been staples of Horace Wood’s diet, and “he has always stayed fit.”

In fact, when he would go deer hunting with the family, Wood was always easy to find.

“We’d just follow the trail of apple cores,” she said.

She describes her father as always “even tempered and forgiving.”

When asked which 50 years were the hardest, Wood, without hesitation, responded, “the first.”

He spent his childhood on land his father homesteaded on top of the Caprock in the Broadview area.

He remembers doing a lot of hard work on the homestead farm, and then, when Wood was about 15 years old, the Great Depression hit.

“We didn’t have anything,” Wood said, after his father’s business failed.

He said he remembers working long days and earning only a dollar for his labor.

Throughout his life, however, he said, another key to staying healthy is, “I have always kept busy. You have to do that.”

 

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