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Melvin Alpheus (Mel) Wood

1924 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Melvin Alpheus (Mel) Wood Obituary

Melvin (Mel) Alpheus Wood, 92, was born October 10, 1924 in Santa Rosa, CA to William (Will) and Amelia (Millie) Wood. He passed away peacefully at Rideout Regional Medical Center in Marysville, CA on December 20, 2016.

Mel graduated from Santa Rosa High School in 1943, majoring in Agriculture. He was an All-America and All Conference Lineman in football in 1942 for the Panthers. He was a recipient for the "Blanket Award" as the Most Outstanding player for the team. He later played for the Petaluma Longhorns professional football team. He was well known for his aggressive style of play as a defensive end and was a great blocker as an offensive tackle.

After his graduation, he was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corps, serving from 1943-1946. He rose to the rank of Sergeant. He served with the 4th Combat Cargo Group in China, Burma, and India, supporting jungle operations for British ground forces, as well as the infamous Merrill's Marauders of American ground forces. He was a ground crew chief for the C-46 aircraft. He repaired, maintained and inspected planes before and after flight. He also flew as serial engineer in combat duty with 220 hours to his credit. He frequently flew over the Himalaya Mountains, "The Hump" from India into China. His highest decoration was the Air Medal With One Cluster. He was released from active duty from Camp Beale, CA.

Upon returning to Santa Rosa, he worked at the family farm in Fulton, CA. He was a member of the 3rd generation of the pioneer Wood family in the area. The primary crops grown were prunes for Sunsweet Growers, delivered to the Healdsburg Dryer and wine grapes delivered to Italian Swiss Colony, in Asti, CA. He also raised sheep, cattle, pigs, and other farm animals. Mel also worked at night as a warehouseman for Made Rite Sausage Company in Santa Rosa and Sacramento for 25 years, retiring in 1981.

He met the love of his life, Frances (Fran) Jean Coates, in Santa Rosa in 1946. In July 1947, they were married in Sacramento, CA and recently celebrated their 69th anniversary. He was quite an outdoor sportsman, enjoying surf fishing with an "A frame" net at high tide and abalone hunting without a wet suit at low tide along the California coast. He loved duck hunting in the Sacramento Valley and deer hunting in the Ruby Mountains of Eastern Nevada. He was also a member of the Santa Rosa Luther Burbank Lodge No. 57 Freemasons and Good Sam Club.

He was one of those people who seemed to survive many close encounters in his life. He was involved in a train wreck in an old 1920's Model A Ford Truck at the age of 10 and survived without a scratch. His unit during WWII suffered heavy casualties, but he was never wounded in combat. For many years, he smoked a pipe and he was known to have a high-ball or two every evening. He renewed his faith in Christ, his Savior, at the very end of his life.

We all hope to live a life as long and full as his. He loved to tell the grandchildren stories about the many pioneer Wood family adventures in Sonoma County. He would often send them out to pick buckets of blackberries in his garden, let them drive his tractors, shoot his collection of guns on his ranch, and showed them how to make his famous bacon-waffles.

Survivors include his loving wife, Fran; his children, Don Wood (Debbie), Joanne Bass (Jerry), and Ed Wood (Marsha); his grandchildren, Joe Wood (Kelly), Chris Wood (Seneca), Pat Wood (Kara), and Steve Wood (Christina); great grandchildren, Jordan Wood, Caden Wood, Michael Wood, Weslyn Wood, and Greyson Wood; sister Maysel Heasell and numerous nieces and nephews.

On behalf of the family, we wish to express sincere appreciation to the nurses and staff at The Courtyard in Yuba City and Rideout Regional Medical Center in Marysville for their dedication and care.

Arrangements are under the direction of Ullrey Memorial Chapel, 817 Almond Street, Yuba City, CA 95991 (530) 673-9542. Celebration of Life services will be held on Tuesday, January 3rd at 3:00 p.m. at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 1390 Franklin Road, Yuba City, CA. Interment will occur later at the Santa Rosa Pioneer Cemetery, 1600 Franklin Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA.

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Published in Appeal Democrat on Dec. 28, 2016
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