June 25, 1945 — Jan. 6, 2021

On Jan. 6, 2021, Carol Jo Wood, of Astoria, walked away to heaven with Jesus to dance in the flower-filled meadows, to sing and play music and to meet those who are gathered there before her.

Once upon a time, a precious, tiny daughter was born to Rev. Joel Vernon Rennells and his bride, Ida “Fern” McGuire. That time was June 25, 1945, and that loved little girl, weighing just over 3 pounds was Carol Jo, who demonstrated that she was born a feisty fighter by thriving.

When Carol Jo’s mama had to go to heaven sooner than anyone wanted, God provided Leona Stillman as a wife and mother to the family, and Carol Jo’s mischievous yet faithful brother, Leon James Rennells, of Longview, Washington, was added to the family.

Carol Jo loved variety, vibrant and multiple colors, making and eating flavorful food and the simple life. Baking fresh bread brought her joy during the years she stayed home with us. She could often be found looking up new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen.

And, she loved to play music like her birth mama. Piano music often filled the spaces where Carol lived and, most Sundays, she could be found at a church organ or piano. We grew up listening to piano hymn sets, as our mother dedicated hours to practice for years and years.

As her name implies, she was a sharer of songs. One friend aptly put it this way: “She leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes!”

Carol completed medical assistant training after high school and worked for Bank of Astoria for many years. After retirement, she volunteered at Columbia Memorial Hospital, where her second daughter, Cathy Jo, had been born in 1978, and where Carol laid in a diabetic coma later that same year.

After a miraculous recovery, Carol frequented Columbia Memorial many times over the years as a favorite patient. Precious baby hats and bright, cozy blankets made by Carol embraced many little ones during her volunteer service.

Carol had a special way of meeting each challenge and rising to the occasion; quietly, subtly and yet compellingly, so that others were encouraged. Imagine a woman who smiles and laughs at kidney dialysis year after year after year, caring for those who attend with her and bringing a sassy, sweet aspect to something that brings most people dread.

Doctors would comment on how well she accepted bad news, and she would laugh and say, “well, what else I am supposed to do?”

“She is an excellent example of grit and grace and perseverance. A true anomaly in the medical world, due to her faith and attitude towards life,” shared her daughter, Cathy, who attended many, many appointments with Carol.

Then the time came for her to let go and rest. Mom had fought and won numerous health issues, till it seemed she was indestructible. If her body was a land, it took multiple, sustained assaults to bring her down. She fought the good fight, finishing faithfully. And she gently ebbed away from this world, still exuding a song of her own that will be heard for all eternity.

We are proud to be the daughters of this courageous and humble woman who modeled what it is to “carry on” with no excuses. We will hear the sound of her determinedly saying, “I can DO it! I can!” along with the exultation from our dad, Glenn Wood (December 1925 — April 1996), “Others have done this ahead of you, and you can, too!”

We are her thrivers: Cathy Jo, along with her husband, Kraig Kirkpatrick, and their son, Ryker, brought Mom to live with them for her last six years; watched over and carefully tended, picked up, perked up and faithfully mended. Her scent and sounds fill their home, creating a refuge of peace. Cathy longs to hear the sound of Mom playing the piano again.

And Cheri Lynn, along with her husband, Rob Lawler, and their seven children, Autumn, Caitlyn, Elise, Brie, Ryan, Keith and Meadow, live in another home full of grace and song.

In her private autobiography, Mom wrote that her eight grandchildren are the “jewels of my life.” These jewels will sparkle on, lighting the way for others.

Services will be held at Greenwood Cemetery in Astoria when fresh flowers will be declaring victory over death, and when the weather smiles brighter on celebrators of one amazing life.

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