May Ethel Watkins Wood died April 17, 2021 in Dodd City, Texas. A memorial service will be held at 3:00 P.M. June 19, 2021 at Mitchell Cemetery.
May Ethel Watkins was born April 6, 1920 to Emma Conner and Joseph Moore Watkins in Marlin, Texas. She graduated from Marlin High School in 1936 and received her BA from East Texas State Teachers College, Commerce, Texas in 1940.
May Ethel taught in Schertz-Cibola Consolidated School for one year and in Rosebud High School for two years.
She enlisted in the Navy Waves in 1943 and attended boot camp at Hunter College in New York City.
After nine months courier duty in San Diego, “Tex” was sent to Midshipmen School at Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts where she was commissioned in 1944. She received communications training then was stationed in Washington D. C. for the rest of the war.
Ltjg Watkins was discharged from the Navy in 1946. May Ethel returned to Texas and worked as a stenographer in the Vocational Rehabilitation Division in Waco, intending to pursue a career as a social worker.
In 1948 she entered the master’s program at the School of Social Work at Columbia University, NYC. When funds ran short, she got a job as Secretary to the Librarian of the Teachers College. For three years she enjoyed the art galleries, museums, theatre, and opera. She bought a Royal typewriter to try to fulfill her life’s dream of writing.
At the suggestion of Uncle Sam she went back to Washington D.C. to serve during the Korean War. At the Pentagon, she worked with her future husband, Norman Russell Wood, a Connecticut Yankee. After his discharge from the Navy, they were married in Washington D.C. by the chaplain of the Senate in the National Cathedral on December 6, 1951.
Mike (May Ethel) resigned from the Navy and joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with Norman. Mark William, was born in Japan in 1955. Barry Watkins was born in Virginia in 1958. When Barry was one, they moved to Germany for a three-year tour. Karen Russell was born in Marlin, Texas two months before moving to Kathmandu, Nepal for three years. The family also spent three years in Monrovia, Liberia and Islamabad, Pakistan. During the stay in Liberia, Mike took up painting and it became a lifelong joy.
The family had many wonderful vacations which took them to Hong Kong, Bangkok, the Taj Mahal, India, Singapore, Penang, and a safari in Kenya. They drove up the Khyber Pass and visited Kabul and went to the mountains of Kashmir and stayed in a houseboat on Dal Lake.
When Norman retired in 1974 from the CIA the family moved to Clifton, Texas.
May Ethel taught her children and grandchildren to play bridge and had fantastic bridge hands throughout the years. She was playing bridge a week before her death. She spent her last year’s reading and painting and was a founding member of the Bosque Art Club. She enjoyed her life in Bosque county. She also loved to travel and visited Europe, Canada, Mexico, Japan and took painting trips to France.
Husband Norman, sisters, Emma, Hortense, Josephine, and Margaret and grandson Micah preceded her in death.
May Ethel is survived by Mark William and Barbara Bennett, grandsons Issa, Ezra, and Gabriel, granddaughter Ava and husband Alex Tsarik. Barry Watkins, granddaughter Monica and husband Kenny Greenwood, grandson Colin and wife Mercedes. Karen Russell and Thomas Rintelmann, grandsons Travis and Russell, granddaughter Kathryn and husband Billy Yoder and great-grandson Norman and great-granddaughters Grace and Lily. May Ethel Watkins Wood was a lady, strong, independent and kind. She was an inspiration to her children and an amazing role model for her grandchildren. She leaves a big hole in our hearts.
Memorials may be made to the Bosque Arts Center at P.O. Box 373, Clifton, TX 76634.
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