Verla Jo (Wood) Vernon
Born to Joseph Walton Wood and Edith C. (Haskins) Wood on June 19/ 1935 in Chickasha, OK.
On October 30th at around 4 pm, after several years of failing health, Verla slipped out of her earthly bonds and moved on to a better place. She had been expected to depart much sooner but she kept up a family tradition of running later than expected. She’ll be joining both parents and her beloved daughter, Ingrid Vernon who left us all too soon. Immediate survivors include her daughter, Leanna Sorcar, son Glen Vernon and their and Ingrid’s extended families.
In her final years I told her often that if I wrote her obituary I would spice it up and add a few elements to give people the wrong impression. She just laughed and said “Go ahead, I’ll be gone.”
More recently, I pled with her to stop her lawless ways because an octogenarian such as herself barely stood a chance trying to outrun or combat law enforcement, irrespective how cat-like her reflexes might be or what would be an element of surprise coming from a woman whose outward appearance belied her true brutish physical strength. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t listen and … well, here we are.
Raised in Chickasha, her father instilled a love of books and literature early on and she loved reading for as long as she could. After having her third child, Verla returned to school and graduated from McNeese State University with a degree in education and began teaching in Louisiana. After a series of moves across the country she returned to Oklahoma and earned her master’s degree from OU and then moved around some more and taught for many years.
Her greatest pleasure in life was being a mother to her own children and many, many others who wanted or needed one. But she also loved teaching, and one of her greatest accomplishments was having helped so many dropouts return and complete their educations and earn their GED’s.
Verla was an avid reader and teacher most of her life and rarely met a book she didn’t like. Accordingly, often to the chagrin of her family, she kept books like she kept her friends; When she found a good one, she never left them behind, never forgot about them and always appreciated them. She was always kind to strangers, kids, old people, anyone less fortunate, and animals. And she was generous to a fault.
But most of all she loved her family and would sacrifice everything for them. She raised three questionably-behaved children and instilled in them a sense of humor and an affinity for sarcasm. Once, when moving to a new small town in Pennsylvania from Oklahoma, a nosy neighbor lady came by asking a litany of questions, mom finally smiled and said “I’m sorry, we really have to get back to work, the kids and I just got back from the continent and we haven’t finished unpacking, but it was wonderful talking to you!” Then turned and closed the door. When I asked her what that meant she smiled and said it was a polite way of getting rid of a nosy neighbor.
Her annoying progeny did their best to imitate her unique linguistics. Try to imagine three ill-behaved pre-teen kids running around the house screaming at each other “The guilty dog barks the loudest” or “Me thinks he doth protest too much” instead of “LIAR!” or “He who smelt it dealt it.”.
We learned early on that it was always important to answer a rhetorical question with another question, as in “Do you think that’s funny?” the answer should always be “What would make us think that’s funny?”
When her kids kids were growing up in Norman, her friend Hud said her house usually looked like a small meeting of lesser-known UN members. Every race and nationality was represented because mom always said to get to know people before you dislike them, otherwise you’re just shallow.
In the rare instances when she would endure a story with an unsatisfying conclusion, (For instance, “…and after all that, they were sold out of pineapple!” Moms response might be “And so, the prophecy is fulfilled.” with a complete deadpan delivery.
If you knew her well, you liked her. If you didn’t, well you genuinely missed out.
In keeping up her veil of secrecy and mystique, she requested cremation and no formal service. Her ashes are then to be put into a suitable coffee can and scattered about haphazardly in a pre-determined location, away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi.
In lieu of gifts or flowers, Verla would rather you do something nice for someone or reach out to a friend just to check in or take in a needy pet. And “pet” means cat or dog – anything else doesn’t count.
Thanks for the lessons mom. We love you and miss you.