James B. Woodward
CLARKSVILLE — James B. Woodward, who grew up in Clarksville, was defined by his friendliness.
Having moved to a retirement community in Ellenton, Fla., Mr. Woodward died peacefully at his home on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014. He was 72.
“He never met a stranger,” his family wrote in a tribute. “During his life, Jimmy gave selflessly of his talents to family, friends, and neighbors.”
“Anybody he met, he walked up and said hello,” said his stepdaughter, Paula Metze. “He made friends right away.”
It was like that when, 13 years ago, he met the woman who would become his wife, Mabel Rodgers, known as “Sunshine.”
They were at a seniors’ event, his wife recalled. “I asked him to dance and we were never separated after that,” she said.
Mr. Woodward rose to the occasion although he was not a good dancer. “That was the only dance we ever danced,” his wife said. “He was just tickled silly to stumble through that first dance.”
The couple married within weeks of meeting.
Mr. Woodward, known to his Clarksville friends as “Woody,” was born in Albany on June 27, 1941, the son of the late Kenneth and Dorothy Woodward. He attended Bethlehem Central High School and went on to work for New York State as an engineer doing maintenance on the capitol buildings, a job he kept until he retired.
“He loved his work,” said his stepdaughter. His wife said he liked to talk about his work on the electrical and air-conditioning systems at the State Capitol.
After retiring, Mr. Woodward enjoyed traveling. “Me and my sister worked for the airlines so they got to travel everywhere,” said Ms. Metze of the couple. The Woodwards’ journeys were limited to the United States, however, because, she said, “He was afraid to travel over water.”
One of his favorite places to travel was Ohio, where his wife was from. He liked to help out on her family’s cattle farm in Bannock, where the Woodwards would spend the summer months.
In Florida the rest of the year, Mr. Woodward also enjoyed golfing, but, again, spent most of his time helping others. “If the neighbors needed help, he would help them,” said his stepdaughter. “That’s what kept him busy...doing car repairs, electrical repairs, any kind of repairs anyone needed.”
She concluded, “He was always busy doing for others.”
James B. Woodward is survived by his wife, Sunshine (Mabel) Rodgers Woodward; his daughter, Jennifer Ooi and her husband, Larry; his son, Derek Woodward and his wife, Stacey; his sister, Ann Gepfert and her husband, Larry; his brother, Robert Woodward; his stepchildren, David Brown, Peggy Wells and her husband, Harvey, Paula Metze, Patti Mallia and her husband, Kevin, Anne Cotrona, Carol Simons-Couture, Donald Simon; his grandchildren, Christopher and Kevin Ooi and Caitlin Woodward; and many step-grandchildren.
His parents died before him as did his stepchildren, David and Gail Simon and Penny Metze.
Family and friends will be received on Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Bannock United Methodist Church in Bannock, Ohio from 10:30 a.m. until time of the service at 11 a.m. with Rev. David Powell officiating. A graveside service will follow at 2 p.m. in North Canton, Ohio at Sunset Hills Memory Gardens. Arrangements are by Toothman Funeral Home in St. Clairsville, Ohio.
Memorial contributions may be made to Bannock United Methodist Church, Post Office Box 63, Bannock, OH 43972.
— Melissa Hale-Spencer