June 25, 1926 – January 11, 2018
Gene McDaniel Woodell, 91, of Bryan, beloved father, husband, uncle, son, neighbor and favorite pharmaceutical detail man passed away Thursday, January 11th, 2018.
A family visitation was held at Callaway-Jones Funeral Home in Bryan on Friday, January 19th, 2018, from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. A celebration of life service was held Saturday, January 20th, 2018, at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist Church of Bryan. Pastor Rick Sitton officiated. A reception immediately followed in the church gymnasium. Burial was at 3:30 p.m. at Old Bethel Cemetery near Bryan. Life Tribute Services are in the care of Callaway-Jones Funeral and Cremation Centers Bryan – College Station.
Called mainly by his last name by most of his friends, Woodell was born June 25, 1926, in Oakdale, Louisiana. He was the youngest of five children born to Alexander and Lucy May Woodell. His father ran a commissary at a saw mill. After three years, the family moved to Grapeland, Texas, where Gene grew up. While applying for the boy scouts at the age of 13, board member Otto Walling was so impressed with young Gene, that he immediately hired him to work at his drug store, Walling’s Pharmacy. Gene loved working in the drug store, eventually running the store for a week or two at a time when Mr. Walling went on vacation. Gene developed the fine art of making milk shakes and serving ice cream cones that only cost a nickel at the time.
While growing up, Gene and friends formed a group called: “Better Men of Grapeland.”The group had rules and bylaws that promoted service in the Grapeland community and encouraged clean and healthy living.
As a 1944 graduate of Grapeland High School, Gene was voted: “Most likely to be President of The United States.” In early 1944, Gene enlisted in the Navy, but Uncle Sam had different plans and drafted him into the Army. He served several places along the way, but most memorable was his time as corporal at Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, where his drug store experience landed him the interesting assignment of making ice cream daily from scratch for the troops.
After World War II, Gene attended school at Texas A&M College, Sam Houston State Teachers College and graduated from Stephen F. Austin College in 1951 with a degree in history. While in Nacogdoches, Texas, Gene worked at Swift Brothers and Smith Drug Store.
After graduation, Gene had several job opportunities, but quickly began working for Sharp and Dohme Pharmaceuticals, which soon joined Merck Pharmaceuticals and became Merck, Sharp and Dohme. When Gene moved to Bryan in 1951 there were just two doctors in College Station and six in Bryan.
While visiting a friend in Huntsville, he met Dixie Lee Martin from Buffalo, Texas, who was his friend’s roommate. Even though Dixie was not interested in Gene at first, he soon won her over when on a future visit she was sick and he cured her ailment with a few home remedies he had learned while working in the drug store.
Gene and Dixie were married on February 27, 1954, at First Baptist Church in Buffalo, Texas, and enjoyed 63 wonderful years of marriage. They were blessed with two sons Gene Martin Woodell and John Royall Woodell.
Gene was a member of First United Methodist Church of Bryan for 67 years where he served as an usher during his membership. Through the years Gene helped greet, welcome and encourage thousands of members and guests. Gene also served on many boards and committees at the church, taught Sunday School and worked with the youth program. He was a member and past president of the 2×2 Sunday School Class. He was a Mason and past member of the Circle Squares Square Dance Club, Knife and Fork Club and First Methodist Church of Grapeland. Gene also served with Habitat for Humanity, Elder Aid and the Brazos Church Pantry.
At Merck Pharmaceutical Company, Gene worked 37 years where he was a senior professional representative. He earned many sales awards working his territory that included the Bryan-College Station area and twenty surrounding counties. Upon his retirement in the spring of 1988 he was presented a plaque and named “favorite drug representative” by the Brazos-Robertson Counties Medical Society.
Gene is survived by his loving wife, Dixie Woodell and sons Gene Martin Woodell and John Royall Woodell, all of Bryan.
He is also survived by nephews and nieces: Kenneth Jay and Joy Blalock, Barry Lee Blalock, Frank Maxfield Looney, Betty and Robert Query, Thomas and Maxine Woodell, Randall and Melinda Martin, and Gena and Gary Turner.
He was proceeded in death by his parents Alexander Moore Woodell and Lucy May Royall Woodell, sister Zelda Frances Woodell, brother Royall Woodell and wife Rena D’Avy Woodell, sister Kathleen Looney and husband James Parks Looney, sister Lucy May Blalock and husband John W. Blalock, nephews John “Joe” Blalock and James Looney, and in-laws Royce and Virginia Lee Martin and Virginia and Gene Adkisson.
Anyone who ever knew Gene would agree that he was one of the most kind, warm, polite and caring men they had ever known. He was a real gentleman and people person who was always glad to see you and made you feel welcome. He always looked for the best in everyone and tried to make every situation he encountered better than he found it. He was thankful and appreciated all he had been given. He was solid, true and trustworthy.
Woodell will be best remembered for his happy, cheerful and joyful personality, his big smile and his kind heart, his encouraging words, his quick and witty sense of humor, his giving spirit, and his love for his family, his church and all of those around him.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Gene Woodell’s memory to: First United Methodist Church of Bryan, 506 East 28th Street, Bryan, Texas 77803.