A Life Lived: Anna Woods’ long life marked by hard work and grace

Published 11:51 am Tuesday, August 22, 2023

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Editorial Director
Anna Belle Woods was just 17 days shy of her 101st birthday when she died August 15. She had outlived all her siblings except two sisters as well as most of her friends and neighbors.
Anna was a 1943 graduate of Elizabethton High School, and a member of the EHS Girls Basketball Team. She enjoyed going to high school reunions, that is, until most of her class members died, and she became too old to go.
Anna worked for a number of years at North American Rayon, retiring from there. However, her first job, like most young women of that era, was at the S.H. Kress store downtown. According to her daughter-in-law, Patricia, she was never afraid of hard work, and liked to stay busy. She raised two sons, Joseph and Gary, both of whom were U.S. Army veterans as was her husband, W. Rondal Woods, who preceded her in death. Joe served in the Vietnam War and Gary, in Iraq.
In addition to her two sons, Anna had five grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren
Up until a recent fall, which resulted in her having to go to the hospital, Anna lived alone, did her own cleaning and laundry and cooked her meals. “She was a very independent person, and every day she dressed up as though she was going out…she looked like a million dollars,” said Patricia.
“Her house was spotless…and she enjoyed cooking, gardening, and canning the vegetables she grew,” said Patricia. Among her favorite meals to fix for family was pot roast, and her daughter-in-law said she made good slaw.
Anna enjoyed staying busy. She did a lot of crafts such as cross-stitching. She also would crochet and one of her favorite things to make was crochet toppers for dish towels to hang on the oven door. And, she enjoyed reading, and in younger years, going to the beach.
She was a collector of family items. Patricia shared that when going through her things after she died, they found so many mementos of family events. “There were newspaper clippings of honor rolls, containing her grandkids’s names, sports clippings. Every achievement of her children and grandchildren had been kept even to my pinning ceremony program from nursing school. It was so much fun going through those things,” said Patricia. Plus, there were little notes attached to things she wanted her children and grandchildren to have.
When Anna was 100 years old, her family honored her with a birthday party and invited family members and friends. “She was so thrilled and she continued to talk about it up until her death. It meant so much to her,” said her daughter-in-law, who along with husband Gary were Anna’s caregivers.
In addition to her family, she loved her church family at East Side Baptist, where she had been a faithful member for 86 years. “She loved her church. In her younger years, she had been active in the church, and had seen many in her church family die,” said Patricia.
One of her former pastors, Gale Hartley, officiated at her funeral.
“She lived a long and good life, and over the years had many good friends and neighbors. She was generally a quiet person, but never hesitated to help when and where there was a need. Everyone loved her which was a testament to the kind of lady she was,” said Patricia.
Perhaps it’s true, old friends are like wine – they grow sweeter and more valuable as they get older. And they are irreplaceable. And, that is very true of Anna Belle Canter Woods. For her, she grew old with much grace.

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