Cuba, Missouri says good by to long-time trooper and a piece of our history…
With the passing of retired Sergeant Woody Aytes, Cuba, MO lost an active community member, family man, and long-time area Highway Patrol Officer, who was a part of Viva Cuba‘s mural history.
In 2007, one of the panels of the History at the 4-Way murals on the restored 1931 Phillips 66 station featured a vintage Highway Patrol car, such as the one Sergeant Aytes drove in his early tours of duty. Missouri artist Ray Harvey painted a number 85, the license number of Sergeant Aytes, on the licence plate of the car, to commemorate Atyes contribution to the Highway Patrol in Cuba. The mural also commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Missouri Highway Patrol.
The Wallis family that owns the restored station on Route 66, was also honoring their husband and father Bill Wallis, who had passed away in 2001, in other mural panels on the station. Wallis had been a long-time supporter of the Missouri Highway Patrol and the patrol’s Missouri MASTERS program that aided the families of troopers who died in service. Wallis had also been a longtime friend of Aytes.
At the dedication of the mural in April of 2007, troopers gathered to participate in the ceremonies. The Missouri Highway Patrol also sent a vintage patrol car similar to the one Aytes use to drive as an addition to the mural signing and dedication ceremony.
With Aytes’ passing in December, 2009, the Highway Patrol lost one of its own. During his funeral services at the Cuba Methodist Church, troopers and law enforcement officers came from all over the state to honor his passing and to speak of him as a role model and mentor to other patrol during his years of service. The blue clad patrol that filled the church’s choir loft added to the pageantry of the services. The warm words of his fellow officers and friends attested to a life well-lived. Highway Patrol members lined the walk as Aytes’ casket left the church.
In the procession to the cemetery, Sergeant Mark Ward drove the lead car which had Aytes’ highway patrol plates on it. Highway Patrol Communications Officer Roger Heard was flown in from St. Joe to play the bagpipes during the ceremony. Retired Cuba Band Director Stan Moore played taps, and the Patrol performed a 21 gun salute to mark Aytes’ passing.
Sergeant Aytes will be remembered for his warmth, professionalism, and for the role that he played in the community.
The Missouri MASTERS, or the Missouri Association of State Troopers Emergency Relief Society, was formed in 1979 to be a fund for the financial aid of a trooper’s immediate surviving family member and children if the trooper is killed in the line of duty. The MASTERS was one of the organizations that the Aytes family designated for memorials.
An obituary of Sergeant Aytes appeared in the December 10, 2009 Cuba Free Press.