1-as a boy. 2-as a sailor. 3-Dee and Camilla 1946. 4- school teacher 1952. 5- school teacher 1979.
Life Sketch: given by Henry L. Isaksen. [1918-2001]
I don’t really remember when I met Kirt the first time, we called him Dee in those days. I believe when he and Camilla were married in June of 1946 I was a struggling graduate student at Stanford University, we couldn’t come to the wedding. We moved here in 1948 and then my friendship with Dee began. As you heard, he was born in Hurricane, Utah. His father passed away when he was only eight years of age, and his mother moved with the family to Salt Lake City, where they lived in the McKay Ward just south of Liberty Park. He went to Hawthorn Elementary School and South Junior High and then South High School and then to the University of Utah. He met Camilla in a history class at South High School. The class turned out to be too large for the room and the students were asked to form another class. And when Camilla, who. . . on whom he had his eye, got up and left he also got up and left, although he wanted to stay with the teacher, Mr. Humphrey, and take his history class. So he started sacrificing for her right from the beginning. (Congregation Laugh)
His original goal was to be a printer. And he worked at a print shop during high school, and I believe earned his own way pretty well, didn’t he? On the first Christmas, after he met Camilla in that history class, he printed up a lot of stationary for her. And being as wise as he was, he also printed up some stationary for mom and dad, and for sister Leona, and for sister Myrle, and for sister Amy and her husband. And we all had stationary for Christmas that year. But he didn’t deliver it in person, he just came and put it on the door step and rang the bell and ran. He was very shy. I recall that he also printed birth announcements for us when our first son, Hank, was born. Even though we hadn’t met him yet, and it was a very clever announcement.
After high school he enlisted in the navy. WWII was in full force and he spent time in Farragut, Idaho and in Seattle, Washington and he trained as a hospital corpsmen. He was sent to San Diego and went through marine training there, and was assigned to the fleet marine core. He was in the south seas during the war, assigned to an LST boat, which landed marines in the Philippine Islands. He was in the battle of Layte Gulf, and during that battle he sustained some shrapnel wounds in his thigh and in his back when their ship was strafed by the Japanese. He survived that, of course, and came home with a purple heart. One of the interesting things that happened while he was out on that boat, was that when they crossed the equator they held a court of King Neptune on the boat, and he was accused of holding church in the sick bay. Now I think he was guilty. I suspect that he held a lot of church services where ever he could. [Kirt sign up as a sailor in the Navy, he was briefly transferred to the Marines then when given the choice returned to the Navy.]
He was away when he decided that he wanted to marry Camilla. So he did something very cleaver, I thought, he sent a ring to her mother and asked her to propose. Which she did and Camilla accepted. And then when he was discharged in March 1946 he came home and renewed the courtship, stepped up the speed, I guess, considerably and they were married in June of that year. She still had a year to finish in her nursing program in order to her bachelors degree in nursing. And he worked during that year as a printer so she could finish. After she finished school, he became a student at the University of Utah.... He…start in elementary ed. did he? Well, I recall something, and I’ll have to remind Camilla about this. I was a. . .I was also attending the University of Utah at that time and I was working half time as a counselor, a veterans appraiser in the counseling center at the University of Utah....He wanted to be an elementary education teacher, but he had already started and signed up on the GI bill… So in order… to [be an] elementary education [major] he had to go through counseling. Well being a veterans appraiser up at the university you’d have thought would have come to me, but he didn’t. He went to one of the other counselors and went through a battery of tests including the Minnesota Multi-phasic Personality Inventory, which was standard in those days to see if people who wanted [to teach public school] to change their majors …were honest, up right, well adjusted people, and so on, and he flunked. (Audience laugh) He... in fact one day when I was in the counseling center I heard a conversation between two of my colleges in the next cubical, and they were saying, “Well, you know everything else looks alright, but this MMPI score, this... you know this guy must be crazy.” And I perked up my ears and walked in and looked at the profile and I said, “Boy he sure is, who is he?” And I looked at the name and it was Kirt DeMar Wood and they could see that I was a little shocked to find out who it was. And they said, “You know this guy?” and I said, “Not only know him, he’s my brother-in-law” “you handle it” and they handed me the file. And I called Kirt in and I said, Kirt, your... Dee, your scores are all fine for you to transfer to elementary education except for this one, what happened on this test? And he said, “Well I figured that if I was going to be an elementary teacher I had to look pretty good. So I tried to answer it the way I thought you wanted it answered.” And I said, “Hey this test doesn’t lend itself to that, now you go in there and take that test again, and [answer just what is asked]. I think you can make it, but you can’t do it unless you are honest.” So he went in the next room, took the test again, we scored it and it was fine, and he became an elementary ed. Major. You didn’t remember that? (Henry Laugh) Well, I remember that very well and remember how hard he worked to get that degree in elementary education.
His goal was to become a principal, he decided how ever that he really loved to teach the children rather then to be an administrator and even though he earned his master’s degree in elementary... in administration. He stayed in the class room and taught fifth and sixth grade at Monroe and the Granger and the Twin Peaks Elementary Schools in Granite School District for thirty years. I’m curious, are any of his students here? I see a few, I’m sure that more would have been here had they known. He was a great teacher wasn’t he? And um, Gaye and Lark were born before he graduated, and Denise and Corinne and Wesley were born before he finished his master’s degree. I can also recall that Dee was a great supporter of his wife, and when Jonathan was born Camilla was a full time doctoral candidate, so he took care of Jonathan, he was the nurse maid for Jonathan. And that I think established a bond between the two of them that was really quite beautiful. But I can recall that Camilla also supported him in his studies. One morning I think it was about 2... 2:30 AM our phone rang, and it was Camilla and she said, “Dee’s having a real hard time with his algebra. And could you help us with one of these quadratic equations that I can’t, we can’t seem to solve.” And I said, “Well fine put Dee on and I’ll help him.” And she said, “Well no, you help me and then I’ll tell him.” And I said, “Well, wait a minute, where’s Dee?” “Well he’s in bed. He has an English test this morning and he stayed up until nearly midnight studying for that English test, and I sent him to bed, and I’m doing his homework. Please help me with this problem.” So over the telephone at 2:30 AM we solved that quadratic equation and eventually she got to bed.
I guess the most famous automobile they owned was a Volkswagen bus before that they had a Volkswagen bug which was “Little Willy” and the bus was.... “Big Bill.” (Laugh) And they drove... they ran three engines out of that bus. They loved to travel and did a lot of it, they would take their tent because they were too poor to stay in motels, and they’d drive far into the night. And then Dee and the older children would have to put up the tent in the dark. Now that wasn’t the first car they had however, and Camilla and I have been trying to remember the name.... What?... “Mesozoic Diplodocus” was the name of the first one, and let me tell you about that 1929 Essex, which was there first car. Now while I was counseling at the University of Utah I was also a graduate student so I was driving an 1929 Dodge. And Dee figured if I could drive a 1929 Dodge he could drive a 1929 Essex. What he didn’t know is that the Dodge is a much better car than the Essex. And it wasn’t very long before the Essex was just a pile of, well... no I won’t say it. (Laugh). But it really laid a smoke screen and so I said to Dee, “Listen, we need to overhaul that engine, we need to put some rings in it, grind the valves so it won’t burn so much oil and run better.” It was a coupe wasn’t it? It was a sedan? a two door sedan? Four door sedan, I’d forgotten I thought it was a coupe. But we got [under] the shade tree at his place and over hauled that Essex and I still bear the scare here where one of the scrapping knives I was using to scrape carbon off of the pistons slipped, and cut me and I tattooed myself so I’ve had a close reminder of my friendship with Dee all these years of my life.
Dee loved books. Especially religious and poetry books, he collected them. Even through this summer, made frequent stops at the DI to look for bargains , and he found a bunch of them. He was a great father. He read stories to those girls and those boys and taught them to do all the things that he liked to do like play checkers and chess, and soft and hard ball, and racket ball, and skiing, and as you probably know Corinne won the county checker tournament when she was in elementary school. She had such a good coach. And he bought family ski passes at Brighton, and all of them went skiing together every Saturday. Now, let me digress one more point here. After Amy, Camilla’s sister, my first wife passed away I married a delightful lady by the name of Zelda and we were married in December. The day we were married Dee took all of the kids who were too young to go to the temple skiing, well that included three of our boys two of Zelda’s and one of mine and two I think of Zelda’s daughters. And while we were in the temple getting married they were having an absolute hilarious time on the ski slops at Brighton. And they’ve never forgotten it. And we haven’t either. How grateful we were for his thoughtfulness in that case. Now I need to say a little more about the books. This is the book that the girls brought to me last night and told me this was one of his favorites and one of their favorites. And he read this with a Spanish accent that I can’t duplicate. But it’s a delightful story about the Lazy Llama and it tells a story of this lazy llama who would not climb the mountains, who would not carry the loads. His name was Luis and Pablo his master down in Peru finally decided that he would have to get rid of him and about that time a man from the zoo in New York came by and offered to buy him, but Pablo was willing to get rid of him and gave him away. And they couldn’t even get him to walk down the mountain. So they had to get him on a cart and haul him down the mountain. They had to lift him into the boat because he wouldn’t walk up the gang plank. On the way something happened to Luis and he became a very active llama they got him in the zoo he was worthless because he kicked up so much dust and made so much fuss that the children and the people who came to the zoo could even stand to be around him. So they shipped him back and something happened on the way back and he returned to his lazy self and Pablo had to pull him all the way up the mountain and... But Pablo was glad to see Luis just the same and after all they were both natives of the same country. So he dragged Luis back again with terrible amount of tugging and hauling they didn’t get home till late that night. Pablo doesn’t know what to do... still doesn’t know what to do about Luis except that he’s found that he makes a lovely pillow at siesta time. Pablo thinks that maybe Luis was up north. When... thinks that maybe while Luis was up north he was only lonesome. Now can you just see Dee reading that story over and over and over again to his children?
Dee was a great member of our extended family, I’ve already given you one example of that. It was traditional in our Smith family to meet at Christmas time, Christmas Eve at grandmas’ place and there was never a dull moment because Dee was always there and it was always full of fun. And how we looked forward to those family gatherings.
Now I need to tell you one more thing about how supportive he was of his family. When Zelda and I were married we had our reception here in this building, we were married in the Provo temple. And through Dee and Camilla’s efforts we obtained the use of the building because it seemed to be central to the people who would be coming. We had just purchased a new little Subaru station wagon and we didn’t quite know what to do with it during the reception because you know with a bunch of kids, who were teenagers and beyond, we figured that they might have some ideas so we asked Dee if he would watch it for us while we had our reception. And he assured us that he would, and that he would also watch the children. So we parked it here in his driveway next to his big camper, remember that big camper that took up most of the room in the driveway and then we came over to the reception. Well he watched all right, he watched it as they picked it up and turned it sideways in the driveway and stuffed it full of news paper and put a sign on it that said “Just married and seventeen kids already.” We had great fun unstuffing that car and getting it out of that drive way so we could go on our honeymoon.
Of course you know that he was a student of the gospel and a scriptorian he studied the scriptures extensively and he developed his own scripture marking system so his scriptures where a kaleidoscope of colors. He made sure he had studied the priesthood and the Sunday school lessons even if he had to stay up until early Sunday morning to do it. After retirement he took classes at Brigham Young University, mostly religious classes, and he dearly loved them. He took time to play chess with a quadriplegic gentlemen in a nursing home. He was active in chess here in the valley and played in ever chess tournament that Orem city had. He sponsored chess at his elementary school. And as you heard his class won the state chess tournament year before he retired. And he was president of the Orem racket ball club and of the... I guess of the chess club as well. Now just one more comment about his racket ball. I played a little racket ball in my day, and after I retired and moved down here he challenged me to a game. And I was absolutely humiliated. So he said well lets play another game and I’ll use my left hand. And he clobbered me again, with his left hand. A week or two ago when I was visiting him I said, hey well I’ll play you now but he declined. (Laugh)
As you know he had a heart attack in 1978. This was just two months after Wesley left on his mission. Dee had a great sense of humor. He got through that heart attack successfully. He retired from teaching. Turned his attention to these many other interests that he had. Not the least of which was to get Jonathan ready for a mission. And how grateful we all are that he was patient and long suffering and gentle and meek and mild with Jonathan. Until Jonathan with the help of his dad and his sweet heart...(Sniffles) I should have recorded this Denise, as you know he is serving his mission and Dee’s work is finished. He was promised years ago that if he would be faithful his life would be protected until he finished his work.
Let me close by reading two poems which were favorites of his. One is “Casey at the Bat.”
It looked extremely rocky for the Mudville nine that day.
The score stood two to four with but one inning left to play.
So, when Cooney died at second, and Burrows did the same,
A pallor wreathed the features of the patrons of the game.
The straggling few got up to go, leaving there the rest
With that hope which springs eternal from within the human breast.
For they thought, if only Casey could get a whack at that,
They’d even put money now, with Casey at the bat.
But Flynn preceded Casey, and likewise so did Blake,
And the former was a puddin’, and the latter was a fake.
So, on that stricken multitude a death-like silence sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.
But Flynn let drive a single to the wonderment of all,
And the much despised Blakey tore the cover off the ball.
And when the dust had lifted and they saw what had occurred,
There was Blakey safe at second, and Flynn a-hanging third.
Then from the gladdened multitude went up a joyous yell.
It rumbled in the mountains, it rattled in the dell.
It struck upon the hillside and rebounded on the flat–
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place.
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then the writing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance glanced in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped.
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one!” the umpire said.
From the benches black with people there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm waves on a stern and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” Shouted someone on the stand–
And it’s likely they’d have killed him, had not Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone.
He stilled the rising tumult. He made the game go on.
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew.
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two!”
“Fraud!” Cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered “Fraud.”
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Casey’s lips, his teeth are clenched in hate.
He pounds with cruel vengeance his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow!
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout.
But there is no joy in Mudville. Mighty Casey has struck out.
You know brothers and sisters, as I crossed the Provo River this morning on the way down here I thought about the fact that river has been there longer then any of us can remember that water has been flowing down the canyon and as I drove along its side I thought of the centuries that have gone by since that river was formed. And since the water started flowing down that river. Its much the same as it has been over the years. And over the centuries. But the water that is there today is not the same water that was there yesterday. Those droplets have far... traveled far since they went down that stream bed and each day, each moment, there’s a new amount of water that flows into that river and yet the river is there and it stays, we recognize it. I thought about the Tabernacle Choir that great singing group that he loved so much, its still there, but the voices in it are not the voices that were there a few years ago. Many years ago. Each of those voices has come and gone. Many of them now stilled in death and yet the Tabernacle Choir sings on. And so it is with life brothers and sisters. People come and go and yet life goes on and we know that somewhere in the great eternal worlds above those same droplets of water, those same voices, those same people live on and they leave behind a legacy: the Provo River, the Tabernacle Choir, the Wood family. A great legacy.
Let me read one more poem in closing. He has it marked with a check and a plus and a line down the side of these verses. And I’ll just read part of it. The “Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
“Life is but an empty dream;
For the soul is dead that slumbers, (Side A ends, [so I’ll include it all]
And things are not what they seem!” from Best Loved Poems of Best loved Poets)
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal:
“Dust thou art, to dust returnest,”
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow
Is our destined end or way;
But to act that each to-morrow
Finds us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, act in the living Present,
Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us (Side B begins)
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time:
Footprints, that perhaps another, (Stops)
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing, (Starts)
With a heart for any fate:
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
Brothers and sisters I testify to you that our good brother, Kirt DeMar Wood is up and doing. It is up to us to labor and to wait. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
See: Part I