Services for Della Marie Woodral Stinson, 101, of Heavener, are 10 a.m. Thursday at Freedom House Fellowship, 20977 Independence, in Heavener. Burial will follow at Loving Cemetery in Heavener under the direction of Lewis Funeral Home of Fort Smith.
This remarkable woman passed away peaceably Aug. 27, 2022, in Poteau.
Della was born at home on July 15, 1921 and had lived most of her life in the Heavener area. She was named after her mother Lisa Ardella Heavener Woodral. Her father was William Riley Woodral. The town of Heavener was named after her great uncle.
Della attended Petros School before starting fifth grade in Heavener. Subjects she liked best were math, spelling, music, and diagramming in English. After her chores were done at night she had to sit for two hours at night to get her homework lessons by kerosene lamp. She enjoyed playing and watching baseball at school but she really liked to play moma peg with the boys as she could beat them! When asked if boys ever teased her she said. “Boys did tease me but they didn’t bully me. I downed them and sit on them before they knew what was happening.”
As an adult, Della attended Practical Nursing School which she really enjoyed. She seemed to enjoy learning, always encouraging her sons to get their education and was proud that all three of them obtained college degrees.
In a grandma’s memory album booklet she noted that the Fourth of July was her favorite holiday; however her family didn’t celebrate by having a picnic. They were always busy with the crops in the fields. They didn’t have firecrackers, but they made their own ‘blasts’ with carbide in cans with a lid on it. She mentioned several times that holidays were celebrated and enjoyed with family togetherness around large meals prepared by her mom.
Growing up the family’s transportation was horse and wagon or they rode a horse. She was 24 years old when they got their first car THEN she learned to drive. She rode a train one time when the family came back to Heavener from Dunbar.
Della was ALWAYS a worker. Growing up she helped with the chores around the house by feeding the chickens and helping to feed the hogs. They used a four cap wood cook stove and Della carried in stove wood to use when her mom cooked (sometimes she helped cook). They washed clothes on a rub board and washed dishes without any running water INside. As a wife not only did she work at home, she held various vocations outside the home as well. Possibly her first job was working at the Red Hen Café in Heavener. Her boys thought it was a real treat when she came home from work and had burgers that had not been picked up by customers. She also worked at Ryburn’s Grocery Store in Heavener before she was a nurse at Poteau Hospital. Sometime later she worked in a carpet factory.
Della first met E.D. Stinson when she was about 9-10 years old at a grocery store where mothers and children could gather to talk and play. Later he moved to her community and became her neighbor. When asked if her parents liked E.D. right away, she said NO. My daddy told me “I’d fly all around the pretty birds and land in the cow pile.” They never had a big fight. She never was a big fighter (with words).
She explained the marriage proposal as, “He just showed up one night with our marriage license at my home. He asked my daddy if he could marry me!” She said it wasn’t much of a wedding. “A neighbor preacher married us at his house accompanied by my mom and dad and my two brothers. It was 21st of October, 1941.” Her brother went with them to a movie for their honeymoon. Their first house was a one room log house that Della’s dad had been using as a hay barn. He moved the hay out so they could move in. Their first job was farming
Springtime was Della’s favorite season and gardening her favorite hobby. For many years Della raised a HUGE garden and wrestled with a large roto tiller to have many rows of fresh vegetables! Just a few years ago when her health would no longer allow her to take care of the big garden she managed to plant a few squash seeds beside her front porch and raised a few squash plants and gathered many squash.
Della was an EXCELLENT cook! The first things she learned to cook were cornbread and fried potatoes. At family reunions or potluck dinners, people were excited to taste the dishes Della had brought to share! Later in life, some of her specialties were her Thanksgiving dressing and her fried pies. Possibly you have had some of her chicken and dumplings or Mexican casserole. Just seemed like everything she cooked was YUMMY delicious! She did admit to her biggest cooking mistake was when she made biscuits with baking soda instead of baking powder.
Not only could Della cook but she could also sew. She made many BEAUTIFUL quilts but a few were made especially for each of her grandkids. She helped make several quilts that were donated for various fundraisers. In 2000 she helped Elizabeth Morris make a quilt that was donated to the Poteau Valley Jamboree to help raise funds for a new public address system and speakers. In 2010 Della donated another colorful quilt to the Lost Tribe of the Cherokees so they could sell tickets as a fundraiser. As a result Della was presented the Joe Lynn Casey Honor Award as the Outstanding Cherokee Citizen for honor and integrity.
Della was a member of Heavener First Baptist Church.
Her grandson wrote, “Strong women who walked before us, like our amazing grandmothers, teach us so much of what we need to know in life. May we listen to their wisdom.” Let’s cherish this legend and the wisdom she shared.
Left to cherish Della’s memory are her three sons: Ed Stinson (Alana), Poteau, Harvey Stinson (Loretta), Sulphur, OK, and Joe Paul Stinson (Waldina), Heavener; Ten grandchildren: Jennifer Manifold (Jason), Nathan Stinson, Angela Stinson, Cami Engles (Dirk), John David Stinson-McAffrey (Al), Aubrey Patton, Joshua Stinson (Kyla), Danielle Stinson, Joseph Stinson, Jacob Stinson; 11 great-grandchildren and waiting for the arrival of 1 great-great granddaughter in November. Della also leaves behind several nieces, nephews, as well as many friends.
Preceding her in death were: her parents and husband; one daughter, Betty Lou Stinson; one sister, Ola May Woodral; 3 brothers, Hershell Lee Woodral, Clarence Eugene Woodral, and Lesley Clay Woodral and wife, Verley Jean Woodral who Della considered her best friends, a grandson, Eric David Stinson, and a special nephew, Ellis Lee Woodral.