IMG_4284My friend Wiletta Woodson died this morning. I’m sad that I won’t have the joy of talking with her anymore in this lifetime; though I’m certain we’ll have plenty to discuss in the next go-round. But I’m not weeping at her passing. Wiletta lived well into her 90’s and I have a smile on my face as I type these words. She lived a helluva life. Some of the stuff we talked about would curl the hair on the heads of some of the church ladies I have known…

I last spent time with her a few years ago when Lindi and I joined our friends Brad and PJ to visit Wiletta and her husband Steve; to share a meal and another amazing conversation among the many we’ve had with her over our 40+ year friendship. I am glad to know that Brad & PJ visited Wiletta this past Sunday. I just know how much that meant to her.

IMG_4289Wiletta worked in the library at Northwest Christian College in Eugene, Oregon when I arrived there in 1972; a bright-eyed, naive freshman. In an environment where most faculty, staff, counselors, and fellow students were fairly-to-deeply conservative, Wiletta was the go-to person if you needed someone to talk to about sex or drugs or anything that felt awkward to discuss in Christian circles. Her compassion and acceptance of everyone – no matter what – helped a lot of students in need who had no one else they felt they could turn to. Wiletta is one of the most open, accepting, and joyfully curious people I have ever known. Brad and I could share some stories that would make some people laugh and others turn beet-red with shock. I’ll save them for a future novel instead of sharing them here in this loving tribute.

IMG_4276That joyful curiosity of hers is what I will cherish most about Wiletta for the rest of my life. It’s contagious. I hope I caught enough of it.

Thank you, Wiletta. Your long, wonderful life made mine more wonderful, and our world a better place.