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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Obituary: Wood, Billy Ray

WOOD, Billy Ray (Age 70) Passed away on December 10, 2014 in Spokane, with his wife and children at his side.

Bill was born in Gassville, Arkansas to Robert and Kathlyn (Auslam) Wood.

The family, which included older brother Jerry Lynn Wood, resided on the family farm in Flippin, Arkansas during Bill’s early childhood.

The family then moved several times over the years to follow the heavy construction work of the era, including Texas, Washington, and Missouri.

Bill and Jerry both settled in Washington, both following in their father’s footsteps by working hydroelectric projects on the Columbia River.

Bill married Susan Dietrich on September 19, 1964 in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.

They made their home in Bridgeport, Washington, where Bill worked as a cement mason on Wells Dam and other hydroelectric projects.

They raised two children there, Robert and Tina.

In 1978, he began assisting with the family flower shop business.

Bill was probably the only Arkansas-born cement finisher ever to go to floral school.

Bill and Sue were blessed to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary earlier this year.

In his younger years, Bill coached Little League and junior high basketball at Bridgeport.

As a business owner in Brewster, he was active in the Chamber of Commerce and a Civil Service Commissioner for the City of Brewster.

Bill was an avid golfer and served on the board of directors for the Lake Woods Golf Course until his health forced him to change his hobbies.

At the urging of a friend, Bill tried steelhead fishing and was “hooked.”

Many hours were spent in his Ranger boat or standing on the Brewster bridge.

Bill became simply known as “the man on the bridge.”

In 1979, Bill joined Columbia Lodge #193 F&AM.

This was the start of Bill’s lifelong passion for Freemasonry, which also included memberships in the Royal Arch Mason, Scottish Rite, Shriners and Eastern Star.

He served as master of his local lodge several times, as well as deputy of the Grand Master.

Bill also held numerous appointed Grand Lodge offices before being elected to serve as Junior Grand Warden in 1996.

His term as Grand Master of Washington in 1999-2000 was one of his proudest achievements.

His motto was “Do Good Unto All,” a philosophy by which he lived his life.

Bill served as Rainbow Dad of Bridgeport Assembly #111 for 12 years, where he was affectionately known as “Mr. Bill” to all of his girls.

Many of the girls looked to him as a surrogate father, and kept in touch with him for many years following.

When the lodge in Bridgeport folded, Bill was instrumental in forming the Hermanos Del Arte lodge in Brewster and instituting the “Bikes for Books” program in local libraries and schools.

This program has since been emulated in several states and Canada.

Thanks to Bill’s efforts, hundreds of children now own their very own bikes which they earned through reading.

Bill was preceded in death by his father, Robert.

He is survived by his mother, Kathlyn; his wife of 50 years, Sue; their two children, Robert (Cathy) Wood and Tina (Kevin) Thorson; four grandchildren, Christopher Jones (Bub), Brandy Jones (Bran-dee), Suellen Jones (Miss Ellie) and McTavish (Mac); his only brother, Jerry (Gaye) Wood, and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, December 17th at 2:00 at El Katif Shrine Center, 7217 W. Westbow Avenue, Spokane, WA 99224.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to your local Masonic lodge’s “Bikes for Books” program.

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