Wayne L. Oak
Wayne L. Oak, 95, Asheville recently of Waynesville, passed into God’s loving arms at The Crossings at Reynolds Mountain, Asheville, NC on February 16, 2019. Wayne’s desire was that his family and friends would celebrate his life with more smiles than tears. He had a wonderful family, many friends, lots of good luck, and the Lord’s good blessing.
Born in Cornell, Illinois on September 11, 1923, Wayne was the son of the late Charles and Mildred (Allen) Oak. In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his sister, Helen (Oak) Nixon and his brother, Earl Oak. He was married to the love of his life, Myrna E. (Noble) Oak on August 16, 1947. The Oak’s celebrated their 71st anniversary this past August.
A proud veteran, Wayne served in the United States Army at several USA army camps and for two plus years in the European Theatre during World War II. He landed on the beaches of Normandy and participated in the Battle of Hill 108 and the Battle of the Bulge as a Platoon Sergeant with the 189th Replacement Company attached to the 29th Infantry Division. For his service, he was awarded two bronze battle stars and numerous other awards, including the French Freedom Metal.
After the war, Wayne graduated from the Gallagher School of Business and the University of Illinois earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting with honors and then an MBA from Northeastern University, Boston. His Master’s Thesis was published and then used as reference material in the Northeastern Graduate School of Business. While at the U of I, he was a member and president of Alpha Kappa Psi, honorary scholastic fraternity, member of Chi Gamma Iota, honorary veteran’s fraternity, and the ROTC chapter of Pershing Rifles, a precision drill team.
After graduating from college in 1950, Wayne accepted employment at Armstrong World Industries and was assigned to the Braintree, MA plant. While there he served in production management and as Plant Controller. He served as a member of the Braintree Civil Defense Auxiliary Police, was a member and president of the Lions Club and a Director of the Braintree Savings Bank. During his 19 years in Braintree, he joined the Boy Scouts of America and has continued his membership for over 57 years as an adult leader. He had an abiding love of Scouting and the opportunities and values it instills in boys and young men. He has served in most capacities at the community and Council level as Scoutmaster, Council Commissioner, Council Treasurer and chaired a major Capital Fund Raising Committee. Some say he held every position in Scouting, except Den Mother. When he was transferred to Lancaster, PA he was presented an honorary plaque which states that he has “Achieved the Status of Den Mother.” He earned the Award of Merit, the Silver Beaver and the God and Service Award. He was also a trained three bead Wood Badge Scouter, a Vigil Member of the Order of the Arrow and served on the staff of three National Jamborees. He is extremely proud of the five Eagle Scouts in his family - both of his sons, Steve and Jeff and three grandsons, Lance, Andrew and Nathaniel. The next generation includes three great grandsons who are Cub Scouts.
Wayne retired from Armstrong World Industries in 1987 after 37 years, serving in management in Braintree, MA and the corporate offices in Lancaster, PA, retiring as Controller of Advertising and Marketing Services. Not satisfied with retirement life, he continued in the work force in the advertising fulfillment business for several more years and as a tax preparer.
Wayne and Myrna have been active members of the United Methodist Church for over seventy years, serving loyally in many capacities at their various resident locations. Much of Wayne’s life was centered in the church, having served in most leadership positions in their local churches in MA and PA. He taught Sunday School, was Lay Leader, and General Chairman of a Church Relocation, Fund Raising and Building Committee for 15 years. He was active in Long’s Chapel United Methodist Church after locating to Waynesville in 1998 and was a member of the Tullis Sunday School Class. Wayne and Myrna became members of Central United Methodist Church, Asheville upon their move to The Crossings at Reynolds Mountain in 2017.
Wayne led a very involved volunteer life. While living in Braintree, he was active in Youth Sports, coaching Little League Baseball, Youth Football and basketball, and was president of the local Lions Club. While living in Lancaster, Wayne was president and Lt. Governor of the Optimist Service Club and on the Board of Directors of the Lancaster Building and Loan Bank. He was a member of Waynesville Kiwanis, with perfect attendance. He was a member of VFW Post 5202, a 64-year member of the AF&AM Masonic Lodge, a participant in Haywood County and NC State Senior Games and facilitator of the Man to Man Prostate Cancer Support Group. He put all of himself into everything he did. A man can leave no finer legacy to his family, his church and the community.
Wayne was passionate about education. He was the first in his family to attend college. He strongly encouraged every youth to go to college, including his four children and nine grandchildren, who had various academic and athletic high school and intercollegiate achievements. He cherished every opportunity to support the academic and athletic endeavors of his family.
He was a dedicated outdoorsman and an avid walker. Since his retirement at age 63 in 1987, he completed Volkswalks in all 50 states twice, all the 51 capitals and accumulated over 25,000 miles, equivalent to walking around the world. During much of the time, Myrna was his walking companion. Their walking adventures included backpacking the Grand Canyon rim to rim round trip, climbing Mt St Helens, hiking above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, and exploring the national outdoor treasures of these United States. His premier walk was the 100 kilometer (62 mile), one day walk on the C & O Canal Trail from Washington, DC to Harpers Ferry, WV which he accomplished at the age of 68. Then he did it again at age 70 just to prove he could do it. He participated in the Senior Olympics and earned many medals. Obviously, his walking agenda had been reduced as his health and age got in the way. While no longer in the outdoors, he daily walked the halls of his assisted living residence, including the day before he died.
Wayne loved life and lived it fully and enthusiastically, embracing each experience with hope, determination and expectant joy. Once a task was completed he would quickly move on to the next goal. He was never one to look back. His reaction was simply that what is in the past is history. He loved all people and believed and affirmed the essential goodness within each person. He believed that given encouragement and personal commitment, anyone can succeed. He carried these traits into his family, his work, his church, and his community. Many remember him as being perennially optimistic, always jumping in and helping where he saw a need. He was a consummate volunteer. He had an expression, “I can’t do everything, but I can do something.” Wayne was a caring, giving and supportive husband, father, grandfather (Pop-Pop), great grandfather, brother, uncle and a friend to everyone.
In addition to his loving wife, Myrna, Wayne is survived by his daughter Kathleen Odvody and husband (Dwayne) of Waynesville; son Steven and wife, (Cynthia), of Asheville; daughter Valerie Wheeler and husband (Burton) of Dunlap, TN; son Dr. Jeffrey and wife (Dr. Carol) of Ellicott City, MD. Wayne is also survived by nine loving grandchildren: Lance and wife (Ashley) Odvody, Durham, NC; Amber and husband (Matthew) Ayers of Colorado Springs, CO; Andrew and wife (Lisa) Oak of Spring, TX, Adrienne and husband (Wasim) Al-Abed of Cornelius, NC; Nathan and wife (Heather) Wheeler of Lexington, SC; Gabe and wife (Brittany) Wheeler of Chattanooga, TN; Bethany and husband (Ines) Pavon of Dunlap, TN; Nathaniel Oak and Julia Oak of Ellicott City, MD. Wayne also has fifteen great grandchildren: Asher, Brayden and Jayce Odvody; Ezekiel Ayers; Neely and Jackson Oak; Laila Al-Abed; Oliver, twins Eleanor and Henry Wheeler; twins Blayne and Alma Wheeler; and Noemi, Sol and Lucas Pavon; with 3 more on the way in 2019.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend the Celebration of Life service and fellowship at Longs Chapel United Methodist Church, 175 Old Clyde Rd., Waynesville, NC on Saturday, March 30, at 10 AM with the Rev. Rob Blackburn and Rev. Tim McConnell officiating. Military honors will be conducted. Interment will be held at the North Carolina Veterans Cemetery, Black Mountain at the convenience of the family.
The family invites you to visitation immediately following the service in The Venue at Longs Chapel United Methodist Church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Daniel Boone Council-Boy Scouts of America, 333 West Haywood Street, Asheville, NC 28801, Occoneechee Council-BSA, 3231 Atlantic Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27604, your local BSA Council, or your local VFW.
The care of Mr. Oak has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Homes and an online memorial register is available at “Obituaries” at www.wellsfuneralhome.com
Boy Scouts of America - Daniel Boone Council
333 West Haywood Street, Asheville NC 28801