LaBelle man turns 108, celebrates day dancing at Lake Kennedy Center
If you walk into the Lake Kennedy Center every Friday afternoon, you’ll see Lowell “Woody” Wood cutting a rug with one of his many female dance partners.
This past Friday, Wood celebrated a birthday among friends (his birthday is Dec. 26), and not just any birthday, his 108th.
Despite his age, Wood is always all smiles and all moves as he steps in time with the beat to classic tunes from a live band churning out the hits.
“I just live one day after another, and make the best of each day,” Wood said of how he enjoys living his life.
The Indiana-born Wood built planes during the war. It’s always been a passion of his to work with his hands, something he still does ’til this day. A young Wood moved to Buffalo where he met his wife, Isabel, whom he was married to for 63 years.
Wood moved to Florida in the ’40s and now lives in an apartment above an airplane hangar in LaBelle with a perfect view of the runway — just how he likes it.
Wood still uses his hands to create beautiful pieces of woodwork in his full shop, a delightful play on his nickname. He recently finished a large bird cage he crafted on his own.
A self-taught machinist, Wood has always been hands-on when it comes to his work. He cut gemstones in California, he built houses in Arizona and was contracted by the military to build planes.
Planes have always been Wood’s passion, having built and flown them over the span of his life. He still actually has his pilot’s license and a plane he built sits in the hangar he lives above.
“Ever since I was in my teens, I built my own airplanes and I flew my own airplanes,” Wood said.
His family is certainly happy he’s still dancing up a storm and bringing joy into their lives.
“We’ve been so blessed to have him for 108 years,” said Wood’s niece, Anne Cremeans. “The family has just always been in awe of him — his way of life, how he lives — he’s always pleasant, always helping people, just will do anything for anybody.”
Wood’s best friend, Stan Stanton, said he’s always admired Wood.
“He’s my hero,” Stanton said.
Traveling was also a passion of Wood’s — he and his late wife loved to travel the world.
“I think Iceland is the only place he hasn’t been to,” Cremeans said.
Stanton even recalls Wood driving his motorcycle from Indiana to upstate New York to “court” her.
Taking cruises is also a favorite hobby for Wood. When he turned 100, he climbed the rock wall on the ship, all the way to the top, and rang the bell.
“He has the record on Royal Caribbean as the oldest person to climb the rock wall,” Cremeans said. “Everywhere he goes, he’s the star of the show.”
Wood certainly was the center of attention during his birthday celebration. His now-girlfriend, Irene Snyder, 98, of about 10 years, was by his side, along with a few other women waiting to get a dance with “Woody.”
Dancing each week is another passion of Wood’s and certainly keeps him spry.
“It’s following the music, and I’ve been in music since I was a little kid,” Wood said of what he enjoys about dancing. “Dancing gives some expression to my life. I don’t think of it as an entertainment, I think of it as part of my life. Everything flows along. I like all kinds of music.”
Wood also was in his high school orchestra and played the trumpet.
The spirited Wood was all smiles seeing his loved ones and friends celebrate a special milestone with him.
Of being surrounded by his family, Wood said, “It’s wonderful.”
– Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj