by Kathy Smith, Lifestyles Editor
Hood County News On-Line Edition January 8, 2000
Oscar Umphress, Jr.
The man who lived on both sides of the road
“I feel better today than I did yesterday when I didn’t feel as good as I do today.”
People who were lucky enough to know Oscar Umphress Jr. heard this saying—and others just as unique—on a regular basis when they encountered the dry-witted, gentle man.
Oscar Umphress passed away Monday at Lake Granbury Medical Center just six days away from celebrating his 96th birthday, but left behind a legacy of hard work, independence, humor and a compassion for his fellow man.
Last year, former Hood County News lifestyle editor Shirley Petroshus interviewed Oscar shortly before his 95th birthday. His down-to-earth, no nonsense style and unique sense of humor was evident to Petroshus. In her story, she explained that Oscar traveled to rest homes in Granbury, Glen Rose, Cleburne and Stephenville two to three times a week to volunteer his rich voice for gospel singing.
“I’ll tell you about gospel singing as I know it,” said Oscar. “It’s coming to a close cause they’re not raisin’ them kind of people any more. It’s a different kind of singing now. It used to be they’d have big singins with dinner on the grounds and a lot of groups that sang. Now there are only about three gospel singers in this county.”
Oscar considered himself one of the three.
Oscar Umphress was born in Hood County and lived here his entire life. He attended the Brushy School southwest of Granbury, but quit after the eighth grade to work. And work he did.
“I raised it all, what there is in this county—cotton, peanuts, maize—and had a few cattle I fed,” Oscar had said. “I’ve done everything except stealing, but we lived happy.”
One of the many jobs Oscar had in his lifetime was working on the old iron bridge that spanned the Brazos River on Pearl Street.
He was a humble man, but did “admit” to his good looks when he told Petroshus that when he was a young man, he was “good lookin’ with black wavy hair.” Those good looks helped Oscar win the heart and hand of his one true love, Mrytle Mitchell, who—as Oscar put it—was “the most beautiful woman on earth.”
The two married on April 9, 1935 and had six children—two sons and four daughters. The family lived on Hwy 144 S. —what is now South Morgan Street—since 1944.
One of Oscar’s favorite sayings concerned his home place.
“I live on both sides of the road,” he’d joke. “On the right side going out and the left side going back!”
Growing up with Oscar for a father was a life full of fun, as daughters Linda Kay Butler and June Brooks explained to Petroshus.
“Whenever we’d sit down to eat, he’d tell us crazy stories or sing crazy songs,” said Linda Kay. “Sometimes when he’d start that type of nonsense, Mama’d nearly fall off her chair laughing at him.” Mrytle preceded Oscar in death in 1997.
The Umphress kids worked in the fields after school. “We’d be hoeing and Daddy’d walk up beside us and begin telling us a silly story,” remembered June.
The two sisters recalled whenever they asked to get a drink of water while working, Oscar would aggravate them by singing “Cool, Clear Water.”
Up until just a few days before his death, Oscar’s independence was evident in his everyday life. He drove his own car, shopped for groceries, paid his bills, went to church regularly, and met his friends for coffee at 8 each morning at a local restaurant.
Oscar is survived by two sons, Gus Umphress of Benbrook and Cecil Umphress of Granbury; four daughters, Mildred Molder of Acton, Frances Bird and June Brooks of Granbury, and Linda Kay Butler of Weatherford; 12 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.
Services were Thursday at First Baptist Church.
© 2000 Hood County News and HCN Online Services – All Rights Reserved
Oscar Umphress of Granbury, a farmer and rancher, died Monday, January 3, 2000 in Granbury. He was 95.
Mr. Umphress was born January 9, 1904 in Hood County. He was a life long resident of Granbury. Mr. Umphress married Myrtle Mitchell on April 9, 1935. He was a member of First Baptist Church in Granbury. He worked at one time at the school cafeteria with his wife. Mr. Umphress also helped construct the old iron bridge and was paid 17 ½ cents per hour.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Myrtle Mitchell Umphress on October 27, 1997 and one granddaughter, Kay Umphress.
He is survived by two sons, Gus Umphress of Benbrook and Cecil Umphress of Granbury; four daughters, Mildred Molder of Acton, Frances Bird and June Brooks, both of Granbury, and Linda Butler of Weatherford; 12 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.
Services were Thursday, January 6, 2000 at First Baptist Church of Granbury. Burial was in Rough Creek Cemetery. Wiley Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Hood County News On-Line Edition, January 7, 2000