The Woods family honors their legacy of love

| September 22, 2015
The Woods Family Meet & Greet at McMillen Park, Aug. 29

The Woods Family Meet & Greet at McMillen Park, Aug. 29

By Chief Condra Ridley

Smiles, hugs, laughter and happy conversations were overflowing all day as the Woods family joyfully united for their first “Meet and Greet” at McMillen Park in Fort Wayne.  This special occasion was originally conceived by Pat Woods Causey, her youngest sibling, Cassandra Woods and a few other family members who shared the dream of bringing together the families of their mother and father, Audrey (MacNeal) and Richard Woods Sr.  They wanted to honor the memory of their parents, celebrate some of the eldest living relatives and meet some of the family members they had not yet been able to meet.

In the years since the idea first surfaced, their  father’s only living brother, Mr. Arlandrew Woods and a few others passed on.  The Woods sisters’ desire to bring the family together became more intense and they began to reach out to relatives in Mississippi and Missouri to get addresses and to start spreading the word about their intent to have a “Meet and Greet” in Fort Wayne to allow the family to get acquainted at last.  Pat Causey said it was most important to them to get the family members to come here, so they set the cost for the event at $20 for adults, $15 for 13- to 19 year-olds,  $10 for five tvo 12 year-olds and free to their elders 80 and above.  They wanted to keep things affordable for all those who would have to finance their travel.  Letters were sent out in February.  Soon,  they were receiving calls from family members all over the country who wanted to participate.

Everything came together in divine order at McMillen Park on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015 as the descendants of Alfred and Martha (Nunnally) Woods lovingly united for a day of fellowship, good food and fun.  Family came from Chicago, South Bend, Ind., Memphis, Tenn., Atlanta and Coldwater and Senatobia, Miss.  Cousin Ethel Young, one of the eldest family members, came all the way from Plattsburg, N.Y., to meet a kind, loving host of cousins she had never seen in her 83 years of life. Cousin Eliehue “Mack” Standback , 70 years young, came from Byhalia, Miss.  Two hundred members of the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh generations of the Woods Family enjoyed their precious moments together.

The children of Audrey and Richard Woods Sr. pose for a photo in 2013, including Back row (left to right)—Lester, Michael, Melvin, Richard, Don, Carl, Greg; Middle Row—Allie Glass, Essie Underwood, Mattie Irby, Sue Nelson, Maxine Smith; Front row—Alred, Pat Causey, Cassandra Woods, Audrey Mace and Marsha Woods. [Courtesy photo]

The children of Audrey and Richard Woods Sr. pose for a photo in 2013, including Back row (left to right)—Lester, Michael, Melvin, Richard, Don, Carl, Greg; Middle Row—Allie Glass, Essie Underwood, Mattie Irby, Sue Nelson, Maxine Smith; Front row—Alred, Pat Causey, Cassandra Woods, Audrey Mace and Marsha Woods. [Courtesy photo]

Pat Causey and Cassandra Woods warmly welcomed the family and Oakley Causey opened the day’s festivities with prayer.  After a great meal, the family was enriched by Maxine (Woods) Smith, who presented the history of the Woods family that she and her daughter,  Jenee’ Harris, had written.  She told about Alfred Woods, who was born to Rachel Woods in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in May 1864.  After moving to Marshall County, Wyatt, Miss., Alfred  married Martha Nunnally on Nov. 7, 1891.  Their union was blessed with Willie Woods, born February 1893, Ethel Woods, born April 1895 and Mack Woods, born Aug. 13, 1897.  Mack married Allie Faulkner and they were blessed with 10 children (six sons and four daughters).  Richard was their first.  Richard married Audrey MacNeal on Dec. 17, 1936 and their union was blessed with 17 children (eight sons and nine daughters) who who hosted the gathering.  She shared how Mack and Allie Woods, affectionately known as “Big Papa and Big Mama” established a Christian home full of love and kindness towards one another and others, as well.  Their faith in God and their sincere love of one another have remained the strength of the Woods Family since the beginning.

A photographer was on site to take family portraits throughout the afternoon.  Pat and Cassandra took special delight in presenting gifts to every family member who traveled to be a part of the “Meet and Greet.”  Face painting was provided for the children and Fort Wayne’s finest, Ty Causey and W.R. Sanders gave an outstanding musical performance for the family in the evening.  Aunt Epsie Brooks was recognized for her 94th birthday (Aug. 17) and Cousin Ethel Young for her 83rd birthday (Aug. 30). A beautiful display of historic family photos was available for all to appreciate and each family was given a copy of the Alfred Woods Family History as a keepsake.

There were many who worked to make the First Woods Family Meet and Greet a dream come true.   Pat Causey expressed her gratitude for all who helped the family achieve their goal and sent a message of thanks to every member who came from out of town.  She was elated to meet so many loved ones for the first time, especially her Cousin Ethel Young from New York.  Ethel told her Cousin Pat, “I felt so good inside of myself:  I was crying inside.”  When asked how she felt about the whole experience of planning, preparing and producing such an event for the family, Mrs. Causey said, “It was a complete joy!”

The family is still a source of supernatural strength when we come together in love and peace.  We can take the Woods Family as a positive example of how we can successfully reach out to new family members in the spirit of love and unity and build new relationships.  They have demonstrated the power in taking time to love:  it is never too late to love.  A word to the wise:  The Time To Love is NOW!!!

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Category: Community, Features, History, Local, People

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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