BURIEN, Wash. -- Alfred Eugene Wooster, 99, of Burien, Wash., passed away on Monday, Feb. 23, 2009, as a result of kidney failure, having come within seven months of living for a full century.
Born Sept. 5, 1909, in the small farming town of Erie in Southeast Kansas, the son of a rural U.S. mail carrier Gene Wooster received his bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Kansas State University in 1933, at the depth of the Great Depression. After two years of job-seeking, he was hired in 1935 by an oil company in Bartlesville, Okla., 100 miles away.
That fall he married an Erie girl, Nona Sanders. The couple started their home in Bartlesville, where their three children -- Kathryn, Jim, and Bob -- were born and raised. After working on war-critical gasoline production facilities during World War II, Gene advanced in the engineering department, becoming highly respected in his profession. Eventually, he had the privilege of participating in the design and then the construction and operation of what was at the time the largest privately financed construction project in history -- the Colonial Pipeline system, which transports refined petroleum products from the Houston area to the New York City area. When Gene retired in 1974 at age 65, he was vice president of operations for Colonial Pipeline Co. Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., Colonial was delivering 2 million barrels of gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and heating oil each day. In recent years he still received occasional letters from former subordinates stating that Gene was the best boss they'd ever had.
Gene was a lifelong member of the Christian Church. He greatly enjoyed worship services, Sunday school, singing in the choir and the fellowship of all the many friends he and Nona made at church. The worship community of Highline Christian Church in Burien, Wash., was a major source of support for Gene following Nona's death in 1998 after nearly 64 years of marriage.
Gene is survived by his three children: Kathryn M. Evans of Kent, Wash., James A. Wooster of Lake Tapps, Wash., and Robert E. Wooster of Colleyville, Texas. Grandchildren include Scott Baines of Renton, Wash., Kent Baines of Seattle, Michelle Bartelheimer of Snohomish, Wash., Ralph Wooster of Colleyville, Texas, Nona Manning of Denton, Texas, James P. Wooster of Maple Valley, Wash., Michael Wooster of Portland, Ore., and Elizabeth Colpean of Grand Rapids, Mich. Between them those eight grandchildren have produced eight great-grandchildren, with one more on the way.
All of us, his family and friends, will miss him greatly. However, we all realize that he gave us the greatest possible gift -- his personal example of responsibility, sacrifice, kindness, optimism, humor and respect for others -- in a word, love.