Though of course there is no way to know now—if Harvey Woodworth was stricken with Marfan syndrome—what might have caused his seemingly instantaneous death could have been a tearing of his aorta, perhaps even damaging his aortic valve. Inside the dark recesses of that chest cavity, where friends and family on that sunny beach could not possibly have seen, Harvey could literally have been tearing apart, causing a quick internal hemorrhage.
That, of course, is my guess, knowing now that Marfan syndrome ran in this Woodworth line. For the distraught family back then, such an explanation certainly wouldn’t have offered any consolation.
What the family did know was that this twenty three year old man had quite abruptly come to the end of his life. Though his parents—particularly his father, whose own death seemed to be hastened by this tragic episode—bore this loss heavily along with his two sisters and brother, there was no wife nor children to mourn his loss or perpetuate his memory.
Official documents recorded the event with the cold sterility of governmental oversight, providing those of us separated from the family by so many generations with proof of his date of death and place of occurrence. A tiny line on column number 11920 of the California Death Index, on the segment dated 1920-1929, records Harvey P. Woodworth’s last moment as June 26, 1927. The place—as shown by the chart translating the county codes—was in Orange County. No longer seen by this family as a refreshing respite from the summer heat, Seal Beach would never seem the same.
Making preparations for their final goodbye, his parents requested their former pastor and good friend, the Reverend W. W. Catherwood, to return to Covina and take charge of the ceremony. As had so many others in the extended Woodworth family, Harvey was to be buried at Oakdale Memorial Park in nearby Glendora, California. There, he would join his young cousins Hattie and Helen—and wait for what, in due time, would transpire for the rest of the older Woodworth generation—and, perhaps, others of his own generation who harbored this secret internal symptom of a deadly disease.