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Emma Wofford Oliver

Former Shasta School Teacher

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POSTED November 10, 2009 2:56 a.m.

Emma Wofford Oliver, 90, passed away on November 6, 2009 at Vienna Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Lodi. She was a resident of Manteca for 50 years and of San Joaquin County for 65 years.

Overcoming  much hardship during her 90 years, she taught by example how to get  through difficult times with great dignity.  She was one of the  strongest people her family and friends have ever known. Indeed, she remained active up until two months before her death, despite pain from her treatments. Throughout her life, she touched many people  with her soft-spoken friendliness, simple elegance, and kind heart. She was truly a devoted friend and a beautiful person in every essence  of those words.

She was born Emma Zealon Wofford on December 24, 1918 near the south-central Oklahoma town of Stratford to Henry and Inez (Lobaugh) Wofford. At a young age she moved to Custer County in western Oklahoma, where  she grew up and attended Stafford High School. She became the first member of her family to come to California when she journeyed to Stockton alone by train in 1944 and began working for Sharpe Army Depot.  Soon afterward, she married Walter Oliver from Many, Louisiana,  and they had one son, Carl Henry Oliver, who was the joy of her life. Sadly, both preceded her in death: her husband after only 20 years of  marriage and her beloved son in 1981.  Despite the great loss, Emma managed to stay strong and continue with an unmatched resiliency, that many admired.

Emma  pursued higher education, attending Delta College, Stanislaus State,  and also obtained a degree through the University of San Francisco, in order to become a teacher. Her family moved to Manteca in 1959, where  she taught first grade for 25 years.  “Mrs. Oliver” began her  career at Yosemite School (now Sequoia Annex), but soon moved to the  newly opened Shasta School, becoming one of its original teachers. Her niece Cindy Wofford teaches there today. Emma always considered  her years of teaching to be her greatest achievement and was proud to  have touched the lives of so many children.  After  her much-deserved retirement came in 1984, she traveled extensively  throughout the United States and Canada. Her travels took her to such places as Niagara Falls, Maine, Kansas City, Connecticut, Washington, DC, and many more.  Her favorite trip was one she took to New Orleans, where she was able to take a boat down the Mississippi River to the  Delta. When her grandnephew Brandon was born, she and her brother Lloyd took care of him.  Her close bond with him remained for the  rest of her life.  In later years, Emma could often be found with  Lloyd, his wife Letha, and Brandon, out to lunch at McDonald’s or Taco Bell. On most nights, she could be found at the dinner table in Lloyd’s home and with him and his family, which was very special to  her.

Emma’s  family was the highlight of her life.  They always came first in  everything she did. Very dear to her was her granddaughter Teresa, whom she helped to care for in her youth.  She always looked forward  to their frequent lunch outings.  She especially cherished the  remarkably close bond she shared with each of her five siblings and  their spouses. They were much more than brothers and sisters to  her, they were also her best friends.  She remained close to all  of them her entire life and treasured all the time she spent with them. In recent years, with the added convenience of cell phones, Emma talked  to each one of them every day. Her sister Bernice would often  stay with her for several weeks or months during the year, which was  a special time together that Emma valued.  Her many nieces and  nephews were also important to her and each one had a special place  in her heart.

Emma  was a lifelong, devout Missionary Baptist. Despite the many hardships  she faced throughout her life, her faith was strong and unwavering.   When she was alone, she would often read the Bible, her tri-monthly “Our Daily Bread” pamphlets, and inspirational books by her favorite  author, Charles Stanley.  In past years she attended Manteca’s  First Baptist Church, but recently had been attending the First Missionary Baptist Church.

Besides her husband and son, Mrs. Oliver was also preceded in death by her parents  Henry & Inez Wofford, her brother H.T. Wofford, her brother-in-law  Everett Yates & Marshall Schwab, and many dear friends.

Mrs.  Oliver is survived by her siblings Lloyd Wofford & wife Letha of  Manteca, Bernice Yates of Folsom, Virginia Schwab of Seal Beach, and  Ralph Wofford & wife Charlene of Cassville, Missouri; sister-in-law  NaOla Wofford of Mesa, Arizona; granddaughter Teresa Stocker & husband  Tim of Lodi; and great-grandchildren Christian & Charlie Stocker  of Lodi. She is survived by her nieces, nephews, and their families;  Cindy Wofford, Jeff Wofford & Rhonda Dutra, all of Manteca, Mike  Wofford of Stockton, Lloyd Yates of Folsom, Bill Schwab of Huntington  Beach, Bob Schwab of Los Angeles, Gayler Norton of Salt Lake City, Utal,  Lana Beck of Cassville, Missouri, and Emma Lou Ray of Allen, Texas, who was named after her, and her special grandnephew Brandon Wofford of Manteca, along with other extended relatives, formers students, and friends.

Arrangements  are being handled by P.L. Fry & Son Funeral Home of Manteca. Visitation will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at P.L. Fry  & Son at 9 a.m. with services following at 10 a.m. Internment  will be held privately at Park View Cemetery.

The pallbearers  are: Lloyd Yates, Tim Stocker, Charlie Stocker, Brandon Wofford, Sam Bologna, and Richard Low.  Honorary pallbearers are Emma’s brothers  and nephews. The eulogy will be presented by Brandon Wofford and  the sermon will be delivered by Pastor Mark Williams of Manteca FMBC. The family wishes to thank the staff of Doctors Hospital of Manteca and  Vienna Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Lodi for the excellent care  that both institutions provided to Emma in the final two months of her  life. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American  Cancer Society, 207 E. Alpine Ave., Stockton, CA 95204. An online guestbook is available at

Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009


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