|Everyone called Dad ‘‘Shorty’’ but this sobriquet reached only his physical stature and left to deeper acquaintance the real reach of his height. This wonderfully tall, short man was born to Joseph James Bevill and Scenie Caldonia McClellan in 1913. Woodrow was a country boy, born with his brothers and sisters to a country farmer. Three years after his birth at Stamps, Arkansas, Dad and his siblings were moved to the country by their Granddad.
He attended grammar school at Cale, Arkansas, and some high school at Theo, Arkansas. Dad’s school years prepared him for his future work: he was a member of the high school debate team and won many honors speaking. He often played in comic skits and school drama. Howard Cottingham of Prescott, Arkansas, recalls that ‘‘he was a good old boy and really could talk.” As a young man he sang and preached as a Nazarene preacher, and was known widely as a good musician. He mastered several instruments, including the violin, guitar, mandolin, piano, and harmonica. He sang with quartets and various groups from his early years.
Woodrow Wilson Bevill married his high school sweetheart, Maurice Rhodes when he was eighteen years old. Born to this union were Nadene, Elliot, Terry, and I. We lived in Escatawpa, Mississippi, at this time. “Shorty's” second marriage was to Rita Pearl Brooks of Wiggins, Mississippi, in June of 1945. Wilma Annette was the only child born to this marriage. Pearl began putting the family back together again.
Dad was converted under the preaching of Barney Walker in 1947 in Escatawpa. He received his Elder’s Orders in 1957 and was ordained by Bishop Franklin of the Mississippi Conference. His pastorates included Carriere, Gallman, Crosby, and Leakesville in Mississippi; Harmony Chapel, Pinegrove, Houma Heights, Vinton, Logansport, and Mangham in Louisiana. His happiest days and most productive years were at Mangham where he passed away. His soul was bright as sunshine, his laughter and good humor as lifting and free as a meadowlark. Somehow he left his sparkle and spunk among visionless people and shared his spangle of light which brightened mens’ lives.
Dad’s pastorates lasted thirty-six years, and ever by his side was my faithful mother who, undaunted amid times sad and grand, was the magic behind the man. Hers was the last face he saw, the last hand he touched, the last voice he heard. My Dad passed away on August 31, 1984. We are ever grateful to Reverend Wayne Flowers, minister at Mangham United Methodist Church, and Rev. Douglas McGuire, District Superintendent of the Monroe District, for their warm words at Dad’s memorial service. Over four hundred came to his service, attesting to his lasting gentleness and love.
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, 1985; p. 243 By Reverend L. R. Bevill|