Woodie Wade Morris passed away Jan. 14, 2013 in Moses Lake, Wash.
Woodie was born Dec. 5, 1932, in Wenatchee, Wash., and raised in Winthrop, Wash., by his mother, Ruby Pemberton, along with his three sisters, Susie Huff Thompson, Lucile Simons and Carol Gene Walters.
When Woodie was three years old, he won a contest for the cutest baby in Winthrop. The prize was a Mickey Mouse cup that was made out of sterling silver, which we still have to this day along with a picture of him holding the cup. His sister, Lucile, is also in the picture.
He learned how to play guitar at a very young age, and by the time he was 15, he was playing music in the dance halls in Winthrop back in the mid-40s. He recorded his first record when he turned 17. He recorded “Angel of the Heart” for his mother and, on the other side, he recorded “Married by the Bible, Divorce by the Law” for his sister Susie. He recorded many records after that, which are now available to purchase on CD.
Woodie was one of the original band members of the 49’ers band. That band had played together for 16 years with different members. When the Korean War started, a lot of the guys, including Woodie, went into the service. The band continued with the guys that didn’t get drafted. Woodie didn’t get drafted; instead, he enlisted because he knew his number would come up. He served in the Army during the Korean War from 1950 to 1952. He got out of the Army as a CPL/E-4. His Commander told him if he re-enlisted for another 2 years he would promote him to SGT/E-5. Woodie said, “Forget it!” He hated the Army because he couldn’t come and go as he pleased. He wished he had stayed in for the 20 years. He would have been retired by 1972. He made $75.00 a month back then in the Army and sent $50.00 of it home to his mom. To make extra money, he would play music almost every night for $10 a night. The gigs were usually 4 hours. He never went overseas. He spent his entire tour in Fort Ord, Calif.
Woodie didn’t play with his band the whole time, but he was a big part of the group, playing steel guitar. He wasn’t the only steel guitar player. He was one of three. Elson Burns was another one. He traveled around the United States playing music in many different bands, mostly playing bass guitar. He had gone to Alaska knowing three cords on the bass and came back to the lower 48 three years later knowing about everything there was to know about the instrument.
He had owned a recording studio in Federal Way, Wash., where he recorded many local groups. He worked at Ziedell’s in Tacoma, running a cutting torch. He also worked in construction, building retaining walls.
After he got out of the Army, he traveled around California playing music.
He finally moved back to Washington and married Joan Johnson in May of 1969. She had two children, Pam and Troy when they got married. In March of 1970, their son, Justin, was born in Tacoma, Wash. The day he was born, Woodie stepped outside to have a smoke and set off the fire alarms through the entire hospital.
The family moved to Pateros in 1972, where he worked for John Neff Orchards until 1984. During that time, he played in many bands and set up a recording studio in the garage. In 1973, he recorded a duet couple by the name of John Kreider and Donna (Dorothy) Isackson. They recorded a 45 record. The two songs they recorded were “Right or Wrong” and “Flower of my Heart”, which were both written by John and on Woodie’s CD. Woodie pressed the two songs on his label WM. In 1980, he recorded a lady by the name of Barb Campbell. She recorded two country songs on a 45 record. The two songs she recorded were “Don’t be Angry” and “Satin Sheets”. Brian Varomon’s band, along with Al Ames, performed the music. These songs are also on the CD.
Woodie and his family moved to Brewster, Wash. in 1984, where the whole family was baptized as Born Again Christians. The family lived there for a year and moved up to Okanogan in 1985, where Woodie and his wife, Joan, have lived until Woodie had to go in to the Moses Lake Assistant Living in December of 2011.
Woodie lost his son, Troy Morris, in 1993 due to a diabetic coma. Troy was buried in Okanogan. Woodie’s oldest daughter, Peggy Burke, lives in Milton Freewater, Ore. with her three children and many grandkids. His daughter, Pam Lester, lives in Moses Lake with her husband and four children. His son, Justin Morris, lives in Moses Lake with his wife and son. Woodie’s wife, Joanie, lives in Okanogan with her two friends and caregivers, Tiffani and Cheyenne.
Woodie played music all his life and his son, Justin, has followed in his footsteps. Woodie played the bass guitar, steel guitar, lead guitar and flat top guitar. He has written many songs and recorded them as well.
Woodie remembered his life as a musician being very fun and full of memories. He never made a lot of money, but one thing Woodie taught his family is to work hard and be honest. The family never went without. Memorial service will be held at the Okanogan Eagles in May. The date has not yet been determined.
Arrangements were handled by Carver Family Funeral Home in Moses Lake. If you would like to leave any comments for the family, you may go to www.carverfamilyfuneralhome.com.