I was raking Sweetgum leaves after God’s latest tempest when I received word that Marge Woolford had died. A wave of gratitude for her rose in my heart and I am compelled to testify to the blessing she has been – to Kristin and me personally, to our church family and to many others I have only heard about.
Marge was as fine a Bible teacher as you’ll ever meet and led the study at Hazel’s house for many years. I never saw her library, but it was well stocked. Many times in years past, after I would announce an upcoming sermon series on one Bible book or another, a small stack of excellent commentaries would suddenly appear on my desk along with a note from Marge on the ones she liked best. They remain some of the best Bible study tools I have. Marge has contributed greatly to my preaching and teaching.
However, Marge gave me another amazing gift that blesses my family to this day. It was Easter Sunday in 1990. Kristin and I had been married just over a year and I had just come on staff at Evergreen to help with youth and worship ministries. In the fellowship time between services, we mentioned to someone that we needed to find a place to live in Vancouver (we were living in Gresham at the time), and a woman I had not met turned to me and said, “I have a place you could live.” That was my introduction to Marge Woolford.
Marge had lost her husband Ray several years earlier in a tragic car accident, and as she worked to pick up the broken pieces of her heart, she began a new life serving at Cannon Beach Conference Center. She did this for several years, working at the center and making regular trips back to Vancouver to take care of her house. This quickly became a significant challenge because Marge’s yard was large and beautifully landscaped. If only there was an energetic person who loved landscaping who could take care of it for her. Smile.
Kristin and I moved into Marge’s house the summer of 1990. We could hardly believe our good fortune. It was a well-maintained house in a super friendly neighborhood only a mile from EBC. In fact, when the Borks next door and the Beeks across the street heard that our last name was Beck, they said we clearly were meant to live there. Besides the gorgeous yard, there was also a woodstove and a woodshed filled with neatly stacked wood. I felt like I’d gone to heaven! Several years later Marge sold us her beloved home. All three of our kids were brought home from the hospital to this house and spent all their growing up years there. We are still grateful to live there and regularly admire Marge’s beautiful garden. In fact, it was fitting that I was working in the yard when the message came. One of God’s beautiful leaves had fallen to the earth, but has been made new and green again in the garden of God.