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.
More UNT family memories
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.