Francis Eugene Wood

April 4, 1936 —  August 2, 2019

Francis (Frank) Eugene Wood was born April 4, 1936, and has gone to be with our Lord on August 2, 2019. He passed peacefully at home in Blue Ridge, Texas, with his wife Cheryl McBeth Wood.

A private celebration of life service will be scheduled in Texas for close family and friends. There will also be a family graveside service at the Blue Mountain Memorial Gardens in Walla Walla.

A Celebration of Life picnic will be held in Preston Park, Waitsburg, on Saturday, August 17, beginning at 10 a.m. Family and friends are invited for food and sharing.

Frank was born April 4, 1936, in Walla Walla, the second of seven children born to parents Francis and Mabel Wood. Francis was a long time wheat farmer in the Waitsburg and Prescott area, and Mabel was a homemaker and teacher.

Frank graduated from Waitsburg High School in 1954.  During his high school years, he was an active member of the Future Farmers of America (FFA), a recipient of the FFA State Farmer award; the captain of the Waitsburg Cardinals football team, he played the clarinet and bass clarinet in the marching band, and participated in community rodeos, races, and talent shows.

Frank attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, on a football scholarship,  and earned a degree in Physical Education in 1958.  During his years in college, he excelled in sports, earning numerous awards and trophies in golf, tennis, football, and baseball. He was the co-captain of the Whitman Missionaries football team (along with fellow co-captain George Sullivan).

After graduating from Whitman College, Frank joined the United States Air Force as an aviation cadet.  He completed Primary Pilot Training in January 1960 as a Distinguished Graduate.  He was ranked second in his class, and had the option to take the mission/aircraft of his choice. He began active service with the rank of Second Lieutenant. He achieved the rank of First Lieutenant in November 1963, and Captain in August 1964 as a pilot in the Special Forces/First Air Commando Group.

Frank began flying as a civilian pilot in 1966 for Braniff International. At one point, he flew under a Department of Defense contract as a flight engineer, transporting troops from Travis AFB to Vietnam and back.

When Braniff first went bankrupt in 1983, Frank went to work locally in Walla Walla as a branch manager for Sterling Savings. When Braniff reorganized in 1984, Frank left the bank and moved to Dallas, Texas, for retraining as a pilot; during the startup, Frank and all the other former employees refurbished airplanes, installing toilets, seats, benches, and other necessities, in order to get the company operational as quickly as possible.  Braniff would go bankrupt and restart two more times; in each instance, Frank would leave his interim job and return to work for Braniff.

After the final demise of Braniff, Frank flew for Express One, a postal delivery service. He later worked for McDonnell Douglas Corporation, who employed Frank as a flight trainer for pilots on the MD11. Frank then went to work for American Airlines, where he would hold a position as simulator instructor until his retirement in 2006.

During the many relocations required by his term in the military and continuing occupation as an airline pilot, Frank has lived in Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, Alabama, Florida, and Kansas.

Frank and Cheryl McBeth were married in June 1993, and began building a cattle ranch in Blue Ridge, Texas, where he would remain for the rest of his life.

His interests included sports, cattle ranching, and horse riding.  He was also a gifted auto mechanic, and scale model builder.

Frank is survived by his wife of 26 years, Cheryl Wood; brothers, John Wood and Jerry Wood; sister, Kaye Wagoner; the mother of his children, Janice E. Wood; two sons and their spouses, Jeffrey and Kelly Wood,  Jason and Leya Wood; one daughter and her spouse, Elaine and Duane Radmer; and eight grandchildren; as well as stepchildren Debra Heil and Derek McBeth; three step-grandchildren, and one step-great-grandchild. Frank was preceded in death by his parents, Francis and Mabel Wood; his brothers, Dan Wood, George Wood, Jim Wood; and his eldest son, Francis Craig Wood.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Frank’s name can be made to the Wounded Warrior Project supporting veterans who have received serious injuries in service to their country. https://woundedwarriorproject.org/

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