Larry Woiwode, who wrote about family, faith and rural life, dies at 80

Farming is a high-risk life. Mr Woiwode was 63 when his jacket was caught in the draft shaft of a hay baler, breaking three ribs, compre...


Farming is a high-risk life. Mr Woiwode was 63 when his jacket was caught in the draft shaft of a hay baler, breaking three ribs, compressing his spine and nearly severing his right arm. As a teenager, her son, Joseph, was trampled by a horse and spent days in a coma; when he recovered, his motor skills still fragile, he almost lost his fingers because of a mower.

One day, setting fire to the weeds blocking a tractor, Mr Woiwode nearly set himself on fire and Joseph, then a toddler strapped to the seat with a cowboy belt. During a cataclysmic blizzard one winter, it was so cold for so long that Mr Woiwode had to fuel his wood-burning furnace with the dead chickens that had frozen in their coop.

But the place also nurtured Mr. Woiwode’s family and work.

“There is a thump that the virgin ground has here on unshaded ground, so different from cultivated land,” he wrote, “and in the colors of the surrounding painter, in light undimmed by pollution, you can feel like you’re on a soundstage.For a second, you see the entire panorama as being constructed to contain you in its stage.

The Woiwodes practiced the Presbyterian faith to which they had turned when their marriage was difficult, and Mr. Woiwode, who had been raised Roman Catholic, often wrote about his chosen faith, about the land and about the biblical stories that supported and shaped it. This makes him an anomaly in literary circles, as well as in the liberal arts institutions where he taught for decades.

“Most of life seems to me to be a religious experience,” Mr. Woiwode told the New York Times in 1988. “I mean, I guess either it does or it doesn’t, and for me it does.”

Larry Alfred Woiwode was born October 30, 1941 in Carrington, ND His father, Everett, was a high school teacher and principal; his mother, Audrey (Johnston) Woiwode, a housewife, died when Larry was 9 years old. He grew up in Sykeston, ND, then in Mason County, Illinois.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Larry Woiwode, who wrote about family, faith and rural life, dies at 80
Larry Woiwode, who wrote about family, faith and rural life, dies at 80
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