A great man passed away on Monday, January 16, 2017. He was not a politician, a celebrity, or well-known. His passing will not be felt around the globe. He will be laid to rest on Saturday next to his wife of almost 60 years.
Ira Bruce Wood, my granddad, affectionately known as “pawpaw,” is that man. He was not a world traveler, an artist, or a man of finer things. He believed television was full of rubbish and country music had died. He was completely comfortable with his life on Ostella Road in a small rural town in Tennessee.
Success to him was not based on a bank account or a credit line. He did not desire fame or fortune. He loved his God, his wife, his family, and his land. Those were the things that mattered.
Our culture tends to focus a great deal on “successful” people. They write stories about the billionaires, the celebrities, and the politicians. They feed us with dreams of fame and fortune, but the reality is, people like my pawpaw are what make this society move.
There are men that spend their lives in small communities seeking to make a living and provide for their families. These men serve their church, pay their taxes, and pour into the next generation. This deserves our appreciation. My pawpaw’s generation was cut from a different cloth. They are a people that understood what tough times were and that God and family is what brings you through.
My pawpaw didn’t have leadership books on a shelf or the latest how-to guide on life. He simply lived life well.
My pawpaw didn’t believe in handouts, but he was always ready and willing to assist those in need. Farming communities are built this way. You watch your neighbor’s place. You alert them of strange activity or step in and wrangle up cows if a fence has a hole in it. We were raised to love our neighbor. We needed them and they needed us.
This idea was birthed out of my pawpaw’s love for God and His word. This example he set for all of us made us who we are today. We love our wives, our kids, and our work because of him. He wasn’t educated at the finest universities, but his wisdom on life far surpasses anything I learned from a lecture in college.
I serve as the Executive Director at HOPE because of him and the life he led. He modeled a pro-life mindset by his actions. He showed me that God and the local church matter, hard work beats laziness, marriage is beautiful, and that life is a gift deserving of our appreciation.
I get up every day and partner with our staff and community to see that life would be celebrated. We believe that every person we come in contact with deserves our respect and love. HOPE opened its doors 20 years ago when my pawpaw was 75 and I was an immature middle school kid. We didn’t even know HOPE existed, but it is clear now to me that my pawpaw was grooming me for the position I currently hold.
Yes, my pawpaw lived a simple life in a very small community, but his impact on this society and our culture is far reaching as his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren go out and make their marks.
I have been blessed beyond belief during my time on this planet, but one of the most treasured blessings the Lord has ever granted me was to be called the grandson of Bruce Wood. That truth can never be taken away from me.
posted by Andrew Wood, Executive Director of Hope Resource Center