Michelle Willard, Daily News Journal, May 31, 2016
You probably saw John Hood pushing his bride of 64 years, Marilyn, in her wheelchair at events and gatherings around town.
It was always a touching scene to see them together at MTSU events, Chamber of Commerce events and at Kleer-Vu Restaurant nearly every Friday.
John would push Marilyn around and talk to people while others would come up and pay their respects to her.
However, Marilyn died May 25 at the Tennessee State Veterans Home in Murfreesboro where she had stayed after an extended illness, John told us. She was 85.
I told John a few weeks ago how much I admired his dedication to her after he placed her in the Veterans Home.
He said that was his role as her husband: to take care of her for better and worse.
For years John did his best to take care of her by himself until he pinched a nerve in his back earlier in the spring while lifting Marilyn. His body failed him before his dedication did.
He said he couldn’t do it anymore. I heard the disappointment in his voice.
I told him I respected him even more — I didn’t even know that was possible — for what he did for Marilyn over the past few years.
But that was his oath to her.
I think John was paying Marilyn back for the years she spent taking care of him and their family.
I did a story about them and a few other long-married couples a while back for Valentine’s Day.
“You couldn’t ask for a better person, good wife and great mother,” he said in 2010.
When it came time for him to support and take care of her, he did.
I talked to Marilyn about what it was like to be married to a man who served his country and community as well as John did from the U.S. Army to the Tennessee state House.
She said it wasn’t always easy, especially because John’s never met a stranger, but she supported everything he did, he said at the time.
I asked her what advice she could give to young couples just setting out on a life together.
She gave the best piece of advice: “Just close your eyes sometimes and keep your mouth shut. …There are times when you want to give up, but I tried to be supportive.”
I think of this when I’m faced with a tough decision. Do I express my doubts or stay supportive?
Thanks to Marilyn Hood, I often follow her example, don’t give up and choose to stay supportive.
I got the chance to know John after meeting him through work.
Back when he was serving in the state House, I was assigned to cover a meet-and-greet event he did at C&E Market in Christiana. John was meeting with constituents to make state government work for them.
As he heard their grievances and suggested ways he could help them, I noticed his nose was red and running.
He had a cold, but he was still out on a blustery winter day listening to people complain about how terrible government is.
I was awestruck.
I still am.
John represents all that is good with public service, and I respect him even more for the service he paid to Marilyn in the last years of her life.
I’ve met a host of people through my job as a reporter in Rutherford County. I have to admit I don’t remember everyone I meet, but I’ll always remember and respect John and Marilyn Hood.
Reach Michelle Willard at 615-278-5164, on Twitter @MichWillard or Rutherford County Business News on Facebook at facebook.com/DNJBusiness.