Phyllis Wooley Findley of Alice, Texas, 93 years of age, passed away Saturday afternoon, Nov. 4, 2017 in the company of her children and husband, William E. Findley, Jr. to be with our Lord and Savior.
Her vibrant personality, energy, optimism, and the loving support that she shared freely will be forever missed by her family and the many hundreds of friends that she made within every community in which she lived during her long lifetime. She was always the first to step in with a helping hand and an encouraging word when anyone was in need.
Phyllis was athletic and smart, and her children quickly learned that; whether it was a casual game of tennis, swimming, snow-skiing or a game of cards; they were in for a tough competition She had a special facility for numbers and math that was quickly apparent at the bridge table and as a young mother adding up the grocery bill to the penny in her head with more speed and accuracy than any unsuspecting cashier. A month before her death, she was still defeating all takers at the “Rummi-Kub” table in the corner of her den.
Phyllis often said that happiness is a decision, and that she made her mind up long ago that she could and would be happy in the face of all challenges and circumstances that life may bring. She brought happiness to everyone around her.
Admired and loved by all for her great wit, faith, character, fortitude, strength, inclusiveness and service, she will most be remembered for her commitment to her family and her 71 years as a loving supportive wife and mother and mentor to seven children, fourteen grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
Born Phyllis Lee Schad, in Detroit, Michigan on April 16, 1924, she excelled academically and played the violin. She was a competitive swimmer, excellent ice skater, and a championship tennis player, winning numerous statewide competitions with her doubles partner during her school days. She graduated from Detroit’s McKenzie High School in 1942 and went on to study at Wayne State University.
She wrote hundreds of letters to soldiers during the war, starting while still in high school. Any time that her brother James Schad or his friends encountered a fellow Marine with no letters from home at mail call, they would ask her to put them on her list.
One day she put a young man from Mississippi on her list of soldiers. Carey J. Wooley, Jr. a petroleum engineer, who had graduated from Louisiana State University, was stationed as a fighter pilot in the Pacific in the jungle of New Guinea. They wrote letters for almost three years during the war before they met. Carey painted her name on the side of his airplane along with a glamorous image of her in a bathing suit. After the war, Carey went to Detroit where they immediately became engaged. They married in 1945 and had four children.
Petroleum engineering and the Humble Oil & Refining Company brought them to the Texas Gulf Coast. Humble Oil’s lease of the King Ranch brought them to South Texas in 1955, where she lived in Kingsville, Corpus Christi and Alice, Texas.
Phyllis was unexpectedly widowed in 1968 after 23 years of marriage. Thanks to the guiding hand and good idea of Lucien Flournoy, Carey Wooley’s freshman year college roommate, Phyllis was reintroduced to William E. Findley, Jr of Alice, Texas. Bill, President of FESCO Engineering Services, a company he founded in 1949, and a former U.S. Naval Officer was also recently widowed with three children. They fell in love and after a world wind courtship, they were married on Jan. 3, 1970, combining their two families into one with seven children. They shared a love of family, community and country as well as a commitment to service and to one another. In 2005, Phyllis took great pride and pleasure in giving the keynote speech at the University of Texas in Austin inducting William E. Findley, Jr into the Distinguished Alumni of the Engineering School of the University of Texas. Bill and Phyllis shared a wonderful life together, full of great fun and joy for their family and everyone around them for the next 47 years until she departed this life.
With her dynamic personality and skill, Phyllis was a natural for leadership roles in numerous civic, arts, public schools, and institutions of higher learning, political, church, and charitable organizations. In 1979, she became the first lay member on the Texas State Bar Association Legal Grievance Committee, serving seven counties. She was a Trustee for Howard Payne University in Brownwood, for which she chaired the Public Relations Committee and served on the Faculty and Curriculum Committee. She was appointed by the Mayor to the City of Kingsville’s Planning and Zoning Board.
She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Alice for over 40 years where she was on the Choir Committee, Sunday School Director, teacher and outreach leader.
Phyllis also served as a board member for the Alice Civic Ballet; the Alice Cotillion Club; the Christian Women’s Club of Corpus Christi; the; the Friends of Conner Museum; “The Breakers” of Corpus Christi, and the Alice Chamber of Commerce, for which she chaired the Long Range Goals Committee.
In addition, for the Alice Garden Club, she served as tour director; for the Alice Petroleum Wives Club she was a model and style show commentator; and for both the Alicean Study Club and the Young Women’s Department of Kingsville Women’s Club, she served in virtually every leadership role.
She was a frequent presence at her children’s schools, as Room Mother and as President of the Memorial Junior High School PTA. She volunteered for KEDT public television, the Institute of International Education in Houston and actively supported Christus Spohn Hospital, the Bill Glass Evangelistic Crusade, Campus Crusade for Christ and “Here’s Life World,” Boys and Girls Club of Alice and the Muscular Dystrophy drive, the Kingsville and Houston Town Hall Lecture Series, and Christian Women’s Club of Corpus Christi. Through her example, her children learned to serve and volunteer.
She is survived by her husband of over 47 years, William E. Findley, Jr of Alice, Texas; their children Jeff (Sherry) Wooley, John (Ianthe) Wooley, Bill Findley III (Julia), Janet (David) Wooley Reed , Steve (Eddie) Findley, Jody (Pat) Wooley Dowley. She was preceded in death by Patty Findley Eldridge, who is survived by her husband Scott Eldridge.
She is also survived by her fourteen grandchildren: Shawn Findley, Amanda (Cal) McAllister, Ryan Wooley, BJ Wooley, Allison (Christian) Wooley Scacco, Meredith Reed, Caroline (Brian) Reed Mitchell, David, Jr. (Chloe) Reed, Travis Findley, Justin Findley, Sara (Brian) Findley Wallace, Philip Dowley, Zoe Dowley, Carey Beth Wooley and eleven great-grandchildren: Blaire, Riley, Reese, and Addie Mitchell, Caleb, Elizabeth, and Jace Scacco, Landry and Merritt Wallace, Paige and Annie McAllister.
The family wishes to extend their gratitude to our guardian angels Cynthia, Grace, Gracie, Sheila and Tina who have cared so well and loved Mom for the past 2 1/2 years.
Visitation will be from 5-7 pm at Holmgreen Funeral Home in Alice on Friday, November 10. Funeral services are at 11 am on Saturday, November 11 at First Baptist Church in Alice. Interment will be held at 2:30 p.m. at Seaside Memorial Park in Corpus Christi, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Carey Judson Wooley Jr. Memorial Endowed Scholarship, Howard Payne University, P.O. Box 2369, Brownwood TX 76801 or the Boys and Girls Club of Alice TX, 793 S. Texas Blvd, Alice TX 78332.