W. O. Couch is a name that some people may not recognize. Most of you know the name Willard Couch better. Pete is what many of you have known him by. He grew up in the hills of Arkansas as a poor farm boy. Later, when duty called, he would serve his country in the Philippine Islands during the Korean War, as an Army MP. Even in war times he had a soft heart and had a hard time with the horrors of war. I rarely ever heard him talk of these times.
For all of his nieces and nephews he has always been our “Uncle Pete”. The name Uncle Pete to us means someone that would do anything that you asked him to do; such as drive across town everyday when my parents were at work to bring me and my sister and brother an ICEE. If you had the chance to go to the store you wanted to go with him! He would buy you anything that you wanted, if he had the money for it in his pocket. Nothing was out of the question for Uncle Pete. He would do anything to please!
His two sons Gary and Craig called him Daddy. His idea of being a daddy meant being the parent that didn’t have to hand out the discipline. He was the one that gave in to whatever Gary or Craig wanted. He was too soft hearted to ever spank or get on to his kids. He wanted to be the “good guy” in their eyes. He left most of the discipline up to Aunt Bobbie.
Daughter-in-laws Kerri and Rita became an important part of the Couch family. They would bring new meaning to the Couch’s with the birth of each of their four grandchildren. Two girls and two boys would bring untold joy.
For the four Grandchildren; Tarrah, Gabe, Kelli & Morgan he became “paw-paw Pete”. These four were spoiled endlessly, with his love and admiration. Their dreams were his dreams, even if it meant that he would be the guinea pig for Tarrah; when she was first learning how to cut hair. He always was proud of Gabe and Morgan with their ball playing and of Kellie and her beautiful singing voice. You can see signs of him in all of them.
He was a hard worker, all of his life; from working in the oil fields of Louisiana, to working the hard life of drilling water wells in the mountains of Arkansas. But he was one of those people that financial success always seemed to be just an inch out of his reach. He never gave up hope of trying to “make it big”, as he would say.
Many people don’t know about the gifted and talented side of this man. He could draw you a picture of anything you sat in front of him. When I was very small, I wanted to become an artist like my Uncle Pete. He could look at a picture and draw it to perfection. He could take and old photo and tint it like a professional photography studio. Today studios charge you $100’s of dollars to do what he did for nothing. He had the imagination and vision of a great inventor. His invention of the “Gimmie’ the Cricket” cricket box, which was marketed for a time at Wal-Mart & Bass Pro Shop, came from his love of fishing. He never made a fortune but he always had a clear idea of just exactly how he would like to spend it.
Uncle Pete’s faults were part of the mortal man. He had faults, but who among us on this earth doesn’t? He was a loving and a giving man that enjoyed life with his family and his friends to its fullest. You always knew he loved you, there was never a doubt. He had his own special way of showing it. He never let you go hungry at his house and his favorite thing to cook other than fried fish was Bar-B-Q chicken. He made the best Bar-B-Q chicken that has ever been cooked and he was proud to share his table with anyone including an occasional dog or two that came by. His love of dogs was sensed by his four legged friends. When he sat down to eat they knew that he was sure to slip them the better part of his meal. His favorite dog was a shaggy, grey, mop of dog named Waffles. If he had only a dollar in his pocket and you needed it he would give it to you. If you needed a ride he would just hand you his car keys. He would give you the shirt off his back even if he needed it more than you did.
He was a proud man and wanted to do good for the ones he loved and cared about. When he was in pain he never spoke up, he didn’t want to worry anyone with his problems. Others were always more important to him.
One of things that most people remember when you talk about the Couch’s that lived in Dubach, La., is that when Christmas time came on Fuller Hill the Couch kid’s celebrated a little earlier than most! Uncle Pete couldn’t wait for Christmas morning; he was more like a kid on Christmas than we were. He would drive Gary and Craig around the block on Christmas Eve and give Santa Claus the chance to come early to the Couch home. This way all the other kids on the hill would worry that maybe Santa wasn’t coming to see them! Gary & Craig would be out till the wee hours of Christmas morning; riding their new bikes up and down the road in front of their house. All the other families probably didn’t share Uncle Pete’s enthusiasm with the rush of Santa Claus to the Fuller Hill neighborhood, but it did become a Couch tradition for years to come.
One of his jobs came out of necessity to make more money as the Vietnam War was winding down. The Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant was shutting down slowly and he became a produce salesman. He would take a truck and make long trips to pick up peaches and deliver them to stores. This earned him the nick name of “Pete the Peach”. This name maybe fit him better than most, because for those that have known him best he was a true “Peach” of a man.
He had a love of music; Elvis & Patsy Cline were a few of his favorites. Roy Orbision was his all-time favorite singer. A few times many of us have seen his performance of his favorite song “Pretty Woman”. We have even caught it on video at least once!
Fifty some odd years ago Willard Owen Couch found his “pretty woman” in Bobbie Jean Brown. This was a truly a, “love at first sight” romance. They only knew each other for three weeks before they would marry. She was also from a large family and so they seemed to have a lot in common. The marriage had some difficult times but it always seemed to have more good times. It has endured, through sickness and health, for richer or poorer and now it will endure and serve as a wonderful memory for all of us that have been blessed to be a witness to it and to be a part of their lives.
Some men’s worth is measured by the property and money that they accumulate in a lifetime; other men like W.O. Couch are measured by all of you that are here. Remember a heart is not judged by how much it loves; but by how much it is loved by others.
Today we should celebrate because we know that W.O. Couch is today without pain and worry. He is probably fishing on some golden pond with his own father and mother, brothers and sister that have gone on before him. He will fry fish tonight for a host of family and friends that have long since left this earth. I know that one day we will all meet again to share our stories about the good times that we have had on this earth and the good times yet to come. But for a time now we will grieve, because we have lost someone very important to all of us. Our lives will never be the same but we will always have him in our hearts and our minds. He will always be only a memory away.
Thank you, Mr. Couch for all that you have given to each of us, in your on special way. You will be missed always.
Your niece Schelley Brown