Celia Jacques Wooldridge of San Angelo, at times more known as Sally Brown and Sally Harrison, lost her battle with metastatic uterine cancer Friday, October 1, 2021, in Lewisville at the age of 73.
On December 21, 1947, Celia was the first of 6 children born to a humble homemaker and a WWII veteran turned Holsum baker. Celia was 18 when she lost her first love: a young man destined for Vietnam, who on an overcast evening in the spring of 1966, perished onboard a military-chartered plane that had overshot the runway in Ardmore, Oklahoma. This event changed the course of her life, and she really lived! A broken Celia persevered, living the chapters of her life with a creative spirit, ardor, and rebellious gusto. She became a beautician in the late 1960's, graduating from Jolly's Beauty College of San Angelo, and briefly found love again with Walter Ahola, becoming a wife and young mother. From the 1970's to 1980's she worked at an array of salons from Charisma to Baptist Memorial, finding joy in helping ladies of another era look their best. She was a painter and poetess with a flair for the dramatic, a free spirit with an affinity for the eccentric, restrained only by the insecurities and wounds she kept hidden within her. Like a painting she was a woman of many layers, some translucent and soft, others hard and opaque. The palette of emotions tempestuously reverberating within her heart revealed the complex spectrum of her personality, and this energy manifested in her paintings and tumultuous relationships.
She shared special bonds with each of her children and grandchildren in different ways, for she recognized they were extensions of herself, and each reflected elements of her own being. She was an unabashed romantic, who could be charismatic or surprisingly forthright. She idolized, and at times emulated, sirens like Marilyn Monroe, Annette Funicello, and Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra, always searching for the perfect prince to rescue her from her plights; but rarely did Sally's idyllic romantic liaisons endure. More than a few times she had it all and lost it all; but some romances yielded stability and new experiences, such as traveling from coast to coast, living in scenic places from Albuquerque, New Mexico to the Azores, to being a background singer alongside her lover in a rural Honkey-Tonk in Cross Plains, or exuberantly dancing with the decorative streamers that she had yanked from the ceiling of a reception hall in New Hampshire, despite the disapproving glares of other wedding guests. Sally didn't care; she was living in a moment, and enjoyed entertaining, just as she did when co-owned the "The Boots & Saddles" in the late 1970's with an ex. For most of her life she enjoyed being the life of the party; but as youth gradually faded, so did those moments, along with the array of men who once fawned over her beauty.
Eventually she found more solace in nature than people, deriving peace from observing birds, or savoring ethereal music harmonized with sounds of nature. During her final years as a mostly reclusive widow, she reflected on her past, good times and bad, on all those she had lost and held dear, expressed remorse and regret for mistakes she couldn't go back in time to rectify. In 2003, her poem "It's Fall Again," about losing soldiers to war, was published in a book of poetry. She described poetry as "a comforting expression of life, flowing from our souls from pen to paper."
Slowly and stubbornly she distanced her life from a world she felt was increasingly unrecognizable and hostile; and she sewed, wrote, painted, created, and ultimately dreamed of being free of her ailing and aging body. In her later years she refused to make routine checkups with her doctors, and when she finally did, it was too late. Not even the doctors at UT Southwestern could rescue her from the inevitable. She peacefully slipped away from us in the ICU of Medical City Lewisville after the medical staff had exhaustively tried to keep her alive just a few more hours; but their much appreciated efforts proved futile. The crescents of her barely-open eyes revealed an unresponsive stare that carried her a million miles away from us. The light in Momma's eyes had gone, but her spirit was free.
Sally is survived by her children, Amy Ahola of Brownwood, Amanda Rangel of Lewisville, and Mark Anthony Ahola of Dallas; 4 grandsons, Aaron Haspel of Fort Lauderdale, Dustin Unger & Colt Barrientes of Brownwood, Christian Bator of Lewisville; and 4 great-grandchildren, Savannah Dannielle, Theseus Nathaniel, Colt Jr. and Maxwell Barrientes. She is also survived by all her younger siblings, Ernest, Dalia, Ricky, & Patsy Flores, and Rosa and her spouse Randall Horn, all of San Angelo. Sally is preceded in death by her late husband Robert Wooldridge, and her parents, Ernest and Alicia Flores.
A memorial service will be held on her birthday, December 21st, 2021 at a location yet to be announced, and afterwards her ashes will be spread in places she loved in Texas and New Mexico. The family would feel privileged by your attendance, and would welcome any stories you have to share of our beloved eccentric mother; and if you have any photos of old artwork or doodles that have since been lost, we would love to add them to our collections of memories.
You're free now Mom. Spread your wings and let the heavenly winds carry you into the transcendent light. Thank you for reminding us to really "live in the moments" of our lives.
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