Wood family legacy video – music and UNT

Playing it forward

Christie Wood (’78) says it was always assumed she would attend North Texas.

A serious piccolo player, she performed as a teenager with the Shreveport Symphony, belonged to the musicians union and learned instrument repair skills from her dad, Clarence “Woody” Wood. Woody, who attended from 1946 to 1949, and Christie’s mother, Mary Ellen Standley Wood (’52), kindled their love of music and of each other in the music school.

“I chose UNT for the music program, but also because of my family,” Christie says.

Woody and Mary Ellen met on a Maurice McAdow concert band tour to Chicago in 1948. While she played clarinet in the concert and marching bands, Woody played saxophone with the Aces of Collegeland in ’Fessor Graham’s Saturday Night Stage Show, alongside his brother and trombonist John Wood (’51).

Following his World War II service, Woody used the GI Bill to study at North Texas.

“I came for ’Fessor Graham,” he says. “He kept me in college by seeing to it that I had extra jobs to play and make money.”

Today, Woody is part of the ’Fessor Graham Scholarship Association and plays at Homecoming reunions.

After marrying in 1951, Mary Ellen, a school band director, and Woody, a musical instrument repairman with a knack for converting old instruments into furniture, raised their two daughters and son in a music-filled home in Shreveport, priming them to repeat history. Standley attended in the 1980s and played in the North Texas orchestra, pursuing a musical repair career like his dad, but died in 2004.

“We were all Brucelings,” says Christie, who shared a dorm room with her sister, Candis Wood Hanson (’80).

The girls moved into Bruce Hall 30 years after their mother lived there, and each fell in love through music at North Texas. Christie met her future husband, George D’Ascenzo (’78), a performing cellist, in Bruce Hall, while Candis, who recently retired after 20 years as principal oboist with the U.S. Air Force band, in Fairfield, Calif., married Steve Hanson (’82), a freelance bass and tuba musician.

Christie, now a stained glass artist, is bringing her family’s love of music full circle.

At her Denton studio, she creates opera-themed light box covers for the Lyric Theater in the Murchison Performing Arts Center to raise money for scholarships. As UNT patrons sponsor a sconce, they choose an opera from a list and then Christie, donating her time, designs and crafts the image in intricate stained glass. Twenty sconces have been designed since 2005, raising more than $6,300 for a cause that for Christie is personal.

“All of us went to North Texas on music scholarships,” Christie says. Her parents donated the first sconce for a scholarship in memory of Standley to depict his favorite opera, Tosca.

“I’m paying it forward,” she says. “I don’t have any children, and for me, this is carrying on our family legacy.”

The Wood music continues to play. Christie sings with a choral group, while her parents, at 84 and 79, play in seven North Texas area bands, ranging from Dixieland to swing, sharing the gifts they learned at North Texas for this generation.

“We love the music,” Mary Ellen says.

 

11 comments

Congratulations!!!

We enjoyed your performance and family history. We appreciate you all being in the Senior Citzens Bands in Denton, as well as the Denton Community Band.

Thanks for sharing your music and family.

Your friends,
The Hunts

Comment #1 posted by Richard & Joan Hunt (not verified) 6 years 50 weeks ago.

What a delight to have found this page about the Wood family. I attended (what was then) North Texas State University with the Wood kids, Christie, Candis and Standley, as well as George and Steve. I am also honored to know Mr. and Mrs. Wood. Talented, dedicated, warm, funny and down to earth are adjectives that apply to all of them. There are too many fond memories of them to relate here except to say Christie is as beautiful as ever (and George, you're still a handsome roue, too. But what's with the hair?)

Comment #2 posted by Bill Colvard (not verified) 8 years 4 weeks ago.

Great article. I was in the high school band with Christie and Candis, and hung around with Standley. The Wood family instilled music in me and helped raise me and several other area kids with great family values.

Comment #3 posted by Andy Anderson (not verified) 8 years 5 weeks ago.

The photo of the young woman in white in front of the big band is June Christie, and she is singing with the Many Green Orchestra in Galveston, TX. Woody played lead tenor in this band, as you can see in the photo. Christie Wood is named after June Christie.

In the wedding photo, the woman on the right is Mary Jo Thomas, one of the North Texas Moon Maids. She sang at Mary Ellen and Woody's wedding.

The photo of Christie in a band uniform, shows the North Texas Concert Band uniform from the 1970's. She was piccolo soloist with the band on tour the last year before McAdow retired.

The white alto saxophone Woody plays is a collector's item, made by Grafton (England). Charlie Parker also played on one of these white plastic saxophones. Woody purchased his in 1951. He still plays on it.

Comment #4 posted by The Wood Family (not verified) 8 years 9 weeks ago.

My parents Eldon M Sonnenburg and Mary Ruth Holmes Sonnenburg both attended North Texas and my father graduated with a bachelors in music in 1942 and a masters in music in 1947. He played clarinet and saxophone and subsequently became a band director for all his adult life. He has just turned 89 and is still playing his clarinet and sax. He, Woody and Mary Ellen Wood play in different musical venues together. They are also neighbors and close friends. I am excited to share this wonderful article about the Wood family with them. Thanks for it, Sylvia Sonnenburg Sheets

Comment #5 posted by sylvia sonnenburg sheets (not verified) 8 years 9 weeks ago.

Enjoyed seeing this and I can understand their love for North Texas. It might have been years later that I was there (MMEd 76) but the environment for musicians to grow as a person as well as a musician is still happening.

Comment #6 posted by Sparky Koerner (not verified) 8 years 9 weeks ago.

I first met Woody back in the early 1950s when he and Bill Lee III opened a music store called "The Music Staff" in Texas City. They did it all, from giving music lessons to selling and repairing instruments. After being around them and hearing about the North Texas school of music, I knew that is where I wanted to study music. The rest is history. "Thank you Woody & Mary". Melvin Gordy BM '59

Comment #7 posted by Melvin Gordy (not verified) 8 years 9 weeks ago.

I just stumbled onto this and so glad I did!

Comment #8 posted by Joan H. (not verified) 8 years 9 weeks ago.

What a wonderful article about my longest-time best friend, Mary Ellen, and her family!
. . . May the band play on. . . .

Comment #9 posted by Beth White Stapleton (not verified) 8 years 9 weeks ago.

What a wonderful story and video of my friend Mary Ellen and her family! Thanks to the writer, the photographer, the editor-- and to the family.

Comment #10 posted by Beth White Stapleton (not verified) 8 years 9 weeks ago.

This is great Christie!

Comment #11 posted by Dolores (not verified) 8 years 10 weeks ago.

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