Frederick William Woodall

August 27, 1921 – March 6, 2010

A Memorial Service by Rev. James P. Cooper

Olivet Church, April 10, 2010

It’s important for us to be reminded from time to time, that the death of the physical body should not come as a surprise. They all wear out, eventually, and during the course of our lives we acquire a little skill at making educated guesses about when a particular body will finally wear out. Since it’s obvious that every physical life comes to an end in its own good time, it should be equally obvious that the transition from natural to spiritual life should be as natural and easy as possible since the Lord’s goal is to get every one of us from this world into the joy of heavenly life, and since everyone’s got to do it without instructions. It must be pretty natural and easy.

In fact, Emanuel Swedenborg tells us, after observing people entering the spiritual world from the natural world for more than 27 years, that it is so natural that sometimes the people who are spirits feel so comfortable in their new life that they don’t really believe they’ve died. We read from the book Heavenly Secrets:

      “As regards, in general, the life of souls, that is, of people who have recently died and become spirits, much experience has made it clear to me that when a person enters the next life he is not aware of being in that life. He imagines that he is still within his physical body, insomuch that when he is told he is a spirit he is absolutely dumbfounded. He is dumbfounded because, for one thing, he is still in every way a man as regards sensations, desires, and thoughts, and for another, he did not during his lifetime believe in the existence of the spirit, or as is the case with some, that the spirit could possibly be such as his experience now proves.” (AC 320)

This teaching, and the many others like it, is very comforting for those of us who are thinking about someone who has passed away from this world. We wonder how they’re doing. We wonder what they’re doing. We wonder if they are happy and being well looked after. And the surprising teaching is that they are so much at home that while they are being introduced to spiritual life, they have to be reminded from time to time that they are no longer in the natural world.

So when we wonder how our friend Fred Woodall is doing, we can remember this teaching and know that he is well, being looked after, and in ever increasing health, vigour, and clarity of mind as he is gently brought into the life of the spirit.

Fred Woodall was born August 27, 1921 in Toronto to Margaret (Pogue) and William Woodall and spent his early years in the Mimico region of south-west Toronto.

However, as the Great Depression hit, the family had to follow the work and he lived in many different places and went to many different elementary schools. These circumstances prevented him from attending high school.

During his last year at school the family was back in Toronto and they rented a summer cottage right on the shores of Lake Ontario. The house was not winterized so Fred’s bedroom on the second floor could be quite cold. Fred collected wooden orange crates and used the pieces to line the walls of his bedroom, to provide insulation and cut down on the draughts. It was also Fred’s job to collect all the firewood he could find.

In spite of the challenges of the times, living out from town, right on the sandy beach of Lake Ontario was a great experience for a boy. He learned to love the outdoors, sail boats, and canoes. He also made many wonderful friends while messing about with his boats, such as Clare and Laura Johnson.

When Fred was 17 his father told him that he’d better get a trade, because if he had a trade he’d always have a job. So Fred spent the next 5 years learning how to make patterns from Potts Pattern works and being paid $3 a week. It later went to $5 a week and he gave all but $1 to his parents.

The hard times and the long hours didn’t prevent him from having a good time, though. His mother sewed sails, and he and his friends would rig the sails on various boats - including a canoe - and have fun trying to sail them.

He became a skilled tradesman, a pattern maker working for various jobbing factories, such as Guerney’s. To be a pattern maker requires the skill of a fine cabinet maker to make the wooden patterns, but it also requires a knowledge of metallurgy so that the finished piece comes out of the mold cleanly, and the right size because the molten metal shrinks as it cools.

When World War II came along he, loving boats the way he did, joined the Navy and served in Halifax. At the end of the war he was honourably discharged and went to work at American Standard as their main pattern maker. Back in Toronto, he also went back to sailing, joining the Toronto Sailing & Canoe Club (TS&CC) where he served as Commodore, served on the executive, and sailed a Lightning class sailboat in the regattas. I’d like to think that Lorna was the love of his life, but it sounds like that boat was a close second.

The club was an important part of Fred’s life in another way. He met Lorna on a blind date arranged by Marmee and George Webb at the New Year’s Eve party at the club – and they were married 6 months later in this very church, 49 years ago.

Fred spent the last 23 of his 50 years as a pattern maker at the TTC. Fred and Lorna enjoyed 27 years of cottage life in “Rainbow Country” on Whitefish Lake south of Parry Sound. They both loved the outdoors, and they loved working on the cottage, making it their own with the skill of their own hands. When Fred finally retired from the TTC, they spent 5 straight months at the cottage.

A skilled woodworker, he made gifts out of wood, and helped build boats. A man who worked skilfully with his hands, not only at work, but to help his friends with their boats, and - for example - built wooden shelves for Olivet Church.

Another teaching about the life of heaven tells us that:

      “…there are in heaven more functions and services and occupations than can be enumerated. In this world there are few in comparison. But however many there may be who are so employed, they are all in the delight of their work and labour from a love of use, and no one from a love of self or of gain (Heaven and Hell 393:3).

There is indeed a place in heaven for those who work diligently and skilfully.

Lorna recalls that after spending most of his last day with Fred in the hospital, she finally went home and went to bed. About the time of his passing, she awakened to a wonderful, relaxed, floating sensation, and a powerful sense of peace. She turned on the radio beside her bed and heard lovely choral music, which brought to mind heavenly choirs welcoming Fred to his new home.

She said, “it sounds strange to call it ‘beautiful’ until you’ve experienced it yourself.”

The Lord rose on Easter Sunday to teach us that there was nothing to fear from death, that He has power over it. He has taught us all in many ways that life continues when the body dies, and that heavenly life is filled with useful activities, conversations with friends, and a happy life with family.

We’ll close with one last reading from the work Marriage Love

      “…a person has common sense, and this is one with that influx from heaven into the interiors of his mind from which, inwardly in himself, he perceives truths and sees them, as it were; and especially this truth, that he lives as a person after death, happy if he has lived well, unhappy if he has lived ill; for who does not think this, when he elevates his mind a little above the thought next to his senses? As is the case when he is inwardly in Divine worship, and when he lies upon his bed about to die and awaits the end; likewise when he hears about the deceased and their lot. …every one perceives within himself that he lives as a person after death. What man who has loved his wife and his infants and children, if in thought he is elevated above the sensual things of the body, does not say within himself when they are dying or have died, that they are in God’s hand, and that he will see them again after his own death, and will again be conjoined with them in a life of love and joy!” (Marriage Love 28). Amen.

First Lesson:

(Psa 23) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. {2} He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. {3} He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. {4} Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. {5} You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. {6} Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

(Psa 84) How lovely is Your tabernacle, O LORD of hosts! {2} My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the LORD; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. {3} Even the sparrow has found a home, And the swallow a nest for herself, Where she may lay her young; Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God. {4} Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; They will still be praising You. Selah {5} Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. {6} As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools. {7} They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion. {8} O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah {9} O God, behold our shield, And look upon the face of Your anointed. {10} For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. {11} For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly. {12} O LORD of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!

Second Lesson:

Luke 10:25-28 “And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’ So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ And He said to him, ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.’                

Luke 12:32-34 “Do not fear little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Amen.

Third Lesson:

HH 393:3 “…there are in heaven more functions and services and occupations than can be enumerated. In this world there are few in comparison. But however many there may be who are so employed, they are all in the delight of their work and labour from a love of use, and no one from a love of self or of gain; and as all the necessaries of life are furnished them gratuitously they have no love of gain for the sake of a living. They are housed gratuitously, clothed gratuitously, and fed gratuitously.”

AC 8478:3, 4 “[They who trust in the Divine] have care for the morrow, still have it not, because they do not think of the morrow with solicitude, still less with anxiety. Unruffled is their spirit whether they obtain the objects of their desire, or not; and they do not grieve over the loss of them, being content with their lot. If they become rich, they do not set their hearts on riches; if they are raised to honours, they do not regard themselves as more worthy than others; if they become poor, they are not made sad; if their circumstances are mean, they are not dejected. They know that for those who trust in the Divine all things advance toward a happy state to eternity, and that whatever befalls them in time is still conducive thereto. [4] Be it known that the Divine Providence is universal, that is, in things the most minute; and that they who are in the stream of Providence are all the time carried along toward everything that is happy, whatever many be the appearance of the means; and that those are in the stream of Providence who put their trust in the Divine and attribute all things to Him.... Be it know also that in so far as any one is in the stream of Providence, so far he is in a state of peace; also that in so far as any one is in a state of peace from the good of faith, so far he is in the Divine Providence.”