Estelle Josephine Wood had nearly beat cancer for the second time, and was on her way to get her last round of shots when a Mack trash truck hit the side of her Lincoln Continental on Friday.
Wood, known as "Miss Jo" by friends and family, was a philanthropist who gave tens of thousands of dollars each year to local causes including organizations dedicated to ending domestic abuse, a youth church program in her native California and the Moose Lodge on S.C. 24, her children said.
The wreck happened at about noon Friday at the intersection of S.C. 24 and Whitehall Road, not far from her home.
Guy James Wootton, 51, the second youngest of her five children, said he was eating Cheerios on Friday at about 11:30 a.m. when Miss Jo offered to make him bacon and eggs. Into the sink went the bowl of cereal.
As Miss Jo left the home to go to the doctor's office and make her rounds at the local grocery, she told Wootton, "I love you."
Wootton responsded, "I love you, too."
And she said back, "I love all my babies."
That's how she was, Wootton said.
Miss Jo loved all of her children and had a different way of bonding with each of them, he said.
Four of her children gathered to talk about her Tuesday; their sibling is traveling from California for the Friday funeral. They stood around a kitchen island in one of several homes that are part of a kind of family compound near Green Pond Landing.
Miss Jo was a U.S. Army veteran, and after divorcing the father of her children, married her high school sweetheart from New Jersey, stockbroker W.P. Wood, who has since died. Her hobbies were mostly spending time with her children, who she all brought together in several adjoining homes in Anderson.
"One by one we all came here," Wootton said.
Tammy Wootton, the youngest, said her mother had an infectious laugh and improved everything she touched, from her time on a farm as a child to her children and grandchildren.
Guy Wootton said he has a big regret about Friday.
The wreck happened just minutes from the home he shared with her and on the way to AnMed Health Medical Center, he and one of his brothers drove past the wreckage.
They knew she was dead, but entertained thoughts she might survive. She'd beaten colon cancer in the early 1990s and had just had her final chemo treatment for cervical cancer; she was headed to get a supplementary shot, her last step before getting a test to clear her.
On the way back from the hospital, Guy Wootton said he stopped to get a picture of the truck and the name of the company on the door.
He asked a man at the truck if he was the driver. It was Anthony Maye, 63, a driver for Powell's Trash Service.
And Wootton punched him.
“I didn’t mean to do it,” he said. “But I did hit him several times.”
Wootton was charged with third-degree assault and battery and spent about three hours in the Anderson County Detention Center.
“I avoided jails for 51 years,” he said. “I regret that I wasn’t there for my family when they needed me.”
His siblings said they regretted they couldn’t have been with him in jail.
Maye was cited by the South Carolina Highway Patrol for disregarding a traffic signal. His company did not respond to a request for comment.
Standing around in the kitchen, talking about funeral arrangements, Wood's children said they had lost their rudder.
"The only shot we have is to pull closer," Guy Wootton said. "She was such a jewel. She'd just light up a room."
John Wootton, the oldest of the siblings, said his mother was the best.
"I think everybody should feel that way," he said. "But I know it's not true for everyone. I know it is for her."
© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved