‘If I need anything, I can call on them’ By DAWN HINSHAW
Before long, a gift of garden-fresh produce will be delivered across a back fence on Arcadia Springs Circle.
And Hugh Winters will demonstrate once again that a good neighbor is someone who practices The Golden Rule: “Do unto others... ”
Like many longtime neighbors, Winters and Marynell Wooten have become extended family — not the kind who visit every day, but who are open and honest, diplomatic and kind.
“Everybody ought to have a neighbor like that,” Wooten said.
Winters has lived next door to Marynell Wooten for 30 years, a fixture in her life from the time she was a newlywed, buying a home and starting a family in a neighborhood where her children could play on the street without worries.
Before long, they were borrowing tools back and forth, pitching in on household projects, looking out for each other’s homes and dogs during vacations.
And, truth be told, antagonizing Marynell’s husband.
“Oscar, he’s not that mechanically inclined,” Winters said with a straight face as he settled in his favorite La-Z-Boy. “I always have to do something to help him out.”
They have celebrated life’s milestones, good and bad.
Winters is 81 and retired from a management job with the postal service. He has been widowed a long time, has a grown daughter, Ann, and defines his life as golf and gardening.
The Wootens are in their 50s and doting on their first grandchild, Haley, an 18-month-old who has taken to looking at adults and saying, in all earnestness, “I said, ‘No!’”
“This little grandbaby, she’s a cute thing,” Winters said. “She was up here yesterday,” climbing on his front stoop.
They live along a circle of 1950s and ’60s ranch-style houses in Arcadia Lakes. No fences interrupt the front lawns.
In 1977, when the Wootens moved in, Marynell was four months pregnant with her first child.
It wasn’t long before she met her new neighbor, and their friendship grew.
They consider each other “farming partners” who compare notes each spring on their vegetable gardens.
“I can’t tell you how many times he’s tilled up my garden,” Wooten said.
The Wootens had two daughters, Jennifer and Kendall. Winters said he always thought as much of those girls as he did his own.
So it pained him to see Kendall suffer for years with a malady that was difficult to diagnose, Lyme disease.
She was 22 when she died, four years ago, at home.
Winters got dressed and came over just as soon as he heard the news about the young woman he considered “a beautiful child.”
“You could tell it hurt him just as much,” Wooten said, struggling with emotion. “He always felt they were his girls, too.”
Through it all, Wooten said, Winters has taught her family about being a good neighbor.
“If we need something, we know where we can find it.”
Winters responded: “I don’t know that one does more for the other. I feel like if I need anything, I can call on them.”
And the thought of moving? It’s never crossed Wooten’s mind.
She tells people she and her husband couldn’t leave Arcadia Lakes — “unless Hugh came with us.”
COLUMBIA - A memorial service for Kendall Marie Wooten, 22, will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Forest Lake Presbyterian Church. The family will receive friends following the service at the church. Dunbar Funeral Home, Devine Street Chapel, is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be made to the Lyme Disease Foundation or to Forest Lake Presbyterian Church.
Miss Wooten died Wednesday, December 4, 2002. Born in Columbia, she was a daughter of Oscar S. Wooten Jr., and Marynell Jenkins Wooten. She was a nursing student at the University of South Carolina and a member of Forest Lake Presbyterian Church. She was an avid baseball fan and had a great love for children, especially her cousins.
Surviving are her parents of Columbia; her beloved sister, Jennifer Wooten and her fiance', Kevin Starnes of Columbia; maternal grandmother, Helen T. Jenkins of Columbia; paternal grandparents, Oscar and Helen Wooten of Columbia; uncles and aunts, Richard and Cicely Jenkins, Charles and Deckie Wooten, Cathy and Rod Culbertson and Richard and Lisa Wooten; cousins, Jean Marie and Gage Fortson, Helen Jenkins, Evan and Margaret Wade, Charlie Wooten, Helen, Graham, Hunter, and Tyler Culbertson, Bailey and Zack Wooten, Gage Fortson and Carson Wade.