Remembering Woody Woodward

Dear Friends and Family of Woody:

Herbert Clifford “Woody” Woodward of Raleigh, NC died on October 28, 2021 at the age of 75. Woody was born on February 19, 1946 in Winchendon, MA.  He is the son of the late Herbert Elmer Woodward and Alice Ruth Woodward.   

Woody is survived by his wife of 52 years, Jeanette Caroll Woodward, his brother Jimmie Allen (and Robin) Woodward of Bella Vista, Arkansas, his sister R. Gayle (and David) Snyder of North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, his brother, David deJ Woodward of Honea Path, South Carolina, his son, Michael Scott (and Julia) Woodward of Raleigh, North Carolina, his grandsons Graham Tennyson Woodward and Marshall Emerson Woodward, and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.  

Woody graduated from Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.  He also completed some college coursework through the University of Maryland’s extension program in Bitburg, Germany.  

Following high school, Woody served in U.S. Army Special Forces including two tours in Vietnam.  After leaving the military, he worked as an instructor at the North Carolina Outward Bound School.  Woody then moved to Bitburg, Germany where he started an outdoor education program for military dependents known as Project Bold.  One year later, the program transitioned to Berchtesgaden, Germany and continued for another 33 years.  

After four years in Germany, Woody and his family relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he developed and ran an outdoor adventure treatment modality for the McLeod Addictive Disease Center.  Woody founded Charlotte Outdoor Adventure Center, a business he ran for a number of years.  Woody then took a position as the Director of Park and Recreation at Long Beach on Oak Island, NC.  Woody transitioned back to Charlotte and worked for the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department for 16 years until his retirement.

During retirement, Woody was an active volunteer in his community.  He was a member on the Open Space and Parks Advisory Committee and Stonebridge HOA and served on the Board of Bridge II Sports.  Woody also volunteered for Outward Bound and was especially involved and passionate about Outward Bound’s Veteran’s programs.

Woody’s true passion was spending time with his wife, traveling to see friends in Washington State, New England, and Italy, watching his son play hockey weekly in an adult beer league, ordering fun gadgets from Amazon Prime, and doing anything involving his grandsons.   

Online condolences to the family may be made at http://www.MitchellatRMP.com.


    Belize, Peace Corps Style

By: Dr. Jimmie L. Medders, Ed.D.

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What do two DoDDs educators in their sixties do when they retire?  We moved back to California and were bored.  My wife, Barbara, considered joining the Altar Guild, but  I wanted to join the Peace Crops, go to Latin America, give a helping hand and generally have a heck of a good time.  The hardships and creepy-crawlies be hanged!  The problem was that Barbara was not all that keen on hardships part of the deal, and the only creepy-crawly she could tolerate was her husband.  She’s a hit-the-mall kinda gal, not a go-to-the-outhouse kinda person.  But I think Barbara sensed a mid-life crisis in her mate, a macho kind of thing, and agreed to go a-peace-corpsing, but with more than a few misgivings.

Well the Peace Corp said we were good enough, and wanted to send us to Belize, Central America, to set up a teacher-training program in the state of Orange Walk.  It seems that most teachers receive no formal teacher training, and that many teachers achieve only an eighth-grade education.  So the need was clear.  We rented our house, stored our furniture, and stowed as many professional resources as we could in out allotted eighty-pounds of baggage.  Barbara’s wardrobe was cut drastically.  Also we included in the luggage some six quarts of Skin-So-Soft lotion which Barbara believed would ward off mosquitoes, a rumor no doubt floated by the manufacturer.  It does not work but produces the softest-skinned malaria patients in the world.

Our jumping off point for our great adventure was Miami.  Here we met our fellow volunteers; choked down our first of some 200 Aralin (malaria) pills to come and received a number of painful injections which were supposed to be good for us. (But why did they hurt so much?)  Then off we flew, soon to ooze down into the sauna that is Belize.  Talk about hot and humid!  It was a challenge to take in more liquids than we expired.

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“Schooling With Uncle Sam” is now available!


VACATION ESSAY: ARCTIC EXPLORATION

I asked my wife about whether we should go to Tuscany or the Languedoc during her spring break from her teaching duties at the DoD school in Karlsruhe, Germany. “Neither,” she said; “I want to go to Lappland.” 

            I pretended not to hear. We had always fled the dreary spring rains in Germany for the sunnier climes of Italy or southern France whenever we had a chance. But spring break was coming early that year, so a few days later I tried again. Same answer. She and her geography classes had been studying the polar regions, and her mind was agog with reindeer, seals, glaciers, and tundra. 

            Next day I went into the map room at the Operations Center at Army Headquarters in Heidelberg. My colleagues there had got me through southern Sudan and eastern Turkey, so I thought they could show me where Lappland is and how I could get there. 

            The railroad ends at Rovaniemi they told me, about three miles from the Arctic Circle, in Finland. A week later, the German travel agent look at me incredulously. “It won’t even be daylight there at the end of March,” he said, “and it’ll be expensive.” But I told him I had to do it and left the plans in his hands. 

            A month later we boarded a train for an all-day ride to Hamburg. Took time for dinner in the Grill Room of the Atlantic Hotel on the Aster Lake: a soup of a steamed perch filets, a salmon schnitzel, a bottle of Chateau Calon-Segur, and a calvados with chef Wolfgang Paulmann, whose driver got us to the train station in time to board the overnight train to Stockholm. 

            We had a two-berth private cabin, fairly comfortable, and were disturbed only by the screeching, metallic clanking of the train cars being switched onto a ferry, and the abruptness of the Swedish customs official opening the door, turning on the lights, and demanding to see our passports. 

            Hot coffee and pastries in the station buffet, then off to see the Wasa, that prestigious Viking sailing ship that sank in the harbor in 1628, brought to the surface in 1961 and which has lain under spraying water ever since so we tourists could come for a look. Lunch in the Operakallaren, where director Axel Mobergh saw to it we sampled house specialties such as a platter of herring in four different marinades, an inch-thick slice of freshly-steamed, slightly baked salmon slathered in a cucumber sauce, and a carafe of a Macon-Villages whose provenance we did not discover. 

            Off to the Baltic terminal and onto the Tallink Silja luxury ferry for the 16-hour overnight cruise through the icebergs to Helsinki. Dinner included an assortment of shellfish and a reindeer steak and a pleasing Beaujolais, made all the more pleasant when the band, whose leader must have scrutinized the passenger list very carefully, suddenly broke into a rousing rendition of “Back Home Again in Indiana.” 

            Our hour-or-so of allotted daylight had already begun when we disembarked in Helsinki, so we used that allotment for a walk around Parliament Square to a Russian-owned restaurant frequented by the diplomatic corps where we lunched on some salmon caviar, a reindeer stew, and a tolerable Russian red Pletchistik wine.

            Another overnight train ride, this one quite comfortable, though dining car fare was forgettable. Scenic views? Hard to say. When there was a little light, the snow banks were high enough to block those views. In the pitch black morning arrival in Rovaniemi, the snow was almost shoulder deep around the platforms. A cab got us to the Scandic Hotel for a welcoming breakfast and a soothing sauna. My wife had arrived in Lappland! 

            We spent the day watching the Rovaneimians go about their daily business. Many of them pushed carts mounted on runners to help them sled themselves over the snow-crusted streets. Shops and theaters had “boot stands,” where people could remove and leave their boots while shopping in more comfortable footwear. My wife had an afternoon of Lapp crafts shops and conversation with Lapp artisans, most of whom spoke some English. Dinner at the hotel was a selection of fried fish and boiled vegetables out of cans and freezers.  

            Three miles from the Arctic Circle. Hired a taxi (Sorry, Admiral Peary) for the ten-minute drive to the end of the highway, flanked by tall snow banks on either side. Twi-light most of our mid-day hours. The driver parked us in front of a log cabin general store before which stood an imposing sign with information in Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Russian, French, German, and English. It informed us that we were standing on the Arctic Circle. 

            Inside the general store was a gift shop, a small museum, and a café. A wall-size map showed how Rovaniemi fit within the confluence of the Kemijoki and Ounasjoki Rivers and how the borders of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia come together. A post office made it possible to send a card anywhere in the world postmarked Arctic Circle. At lunch, we munched on reindeer “burgers” and deep-fried potato chunks and sipped  hot coffee. We had dined on the Arctic Circle. 

            The taxi got us back to Rovaniemi in time to catch the overnight train back to Helsinki. Our experience taught us to buy sandwiches and candy bars from the platform vendors and avoid the dining car, from which we did buy small bottles of Rhone Valley wine. 

            We reversed the train and ferry rides all the way back to Germany, the only variances being that our lunch in Helsinki was at the waterfront market stalls and in Stockholm we were joined by Operakallaren chef Werner Vogel who shared with us some of what he called “left-overs” from a dinner he had prepared the night before for the Nobel Prize planning committee: blintzes stuffed with caviar, mousseline of salmon in puff pastry, a loin of reindeer in a cranberry dressing, and a fine claret from St-Julien. And by the way, this time the ferry bandsmen played “On the Banks of the Wabash.” 

            Since we were there, Santa Claus has built a small village near the old lodge where, I am told, you can watch elves at work making toys and get a sample of Grandma Claus’s cloudberry pie. 

Allen Dale Olson


Vacation Essay Contest: Raiders of the Axum

By: Kim Medders    

Every now and then, my dad would dust off his Stewart Granger brush jacket, grab his Humphrey Bogart fedora, pop a Tiparillo cigar between his lips and shepherd mom and us kids into the old VW bus for another cockamamie quest for adventure. On previous vacations we traveled through Europe, seeing every sight worth seeing and sometimes going where no American tourist had gone before. We’d visited Cairo and other parts of Egypt, and spent an idyllic week once on a beat up scow with an Ethiopian crew island hopping and fishing the Red Sea. These amazing travel opportunities seemed to always pop up as a consequence of dad’s employment as a teacher with the Department of Defense overseas school system. Our Easter vacation in 1963 would be one of the highlights of such vacations.   

Around this time we were living high atop Mt. Emba Soira, in the mountain city of Asmara, in what is now the capital of Eretria. It is considered the 6th highest capital in the world, and because of an earlier Italian colonial influence, a beautiful city full of experimental Modernistic architecture from the early 20th century. Even today, over a hundred years after the Italian influence, Asmara is still considered a jewel of a city. As with any African city, poverty was all around. We lived off base and it was distressing to see how poor some of our neighbors were.

Our reason for my family being there was a small Army outpost where secret things occurred with big antennas. Mom and dad both taught the children of the soldiers at a school on the base. Both my sister and I went to Asmara American School as it was known. One day dad came home to our Italian villa off base excited. The principal of the school had arranged a caravan to visit Axum for Easter!  

Axum is an ancient city and was considered to be the holiest city in Ethiopia. Many Ethiopian Orthodox Christians made pilgrimages there. Legends claim Queen of Sheba journeyed to visit King Solomon from Axum. Years later the son from their union, while visiting his father Solomon, brought back the Ark of the Covenant, and the Tablets of Stone upon which the Ten Commandments are inscribed.

The journey from Asmara was not far, some 90 miles as the crow flew, but the trip would be fraught with the problems of traveling in Africa. The road down the mountain was long and winding, with many switchbacks. The average speed of our 5 car caravan was 25 miles an hour with the lead vehicle being an Army jeep setting the pace. We had a couple of Military Police (M.P.’s) along to protect us from Eritrean separatist and bandits known as Shiftas who preyed on the unwary traveler. Most of the men who came along were armed with revolvers strapped to their hips like cowboys, which fascinated me as a typical eight year old boy. Mom had to slap my hand away from one I was trying to liberate from the principal’s holster!  

After our decent from Asmara, we traveled along roads that were paved with modern asphalt, but a lot of the time they were dirt or rock, some being built as we traveled them by the hands and backs of Ethiopian men laboring to pay their taxes for the year. You could hear their work songs as we pushed down the road. Finally we arrived in Axum, tired from the 140 some odd miles of actual travel. There were no hotels there, but the men had arranged for us to spend the night in these little round mud huts built by the natives, called tukuls. The women and children divided up the bedding, for each one. My brother and I shared one cot and my mom and sister shared another. Dad and the men slept in their cars to prevent thieves. 

The next day we explored the once great city of Axum. You could tell it was a place of great history from the ruins that abounded there. We saw mighty obelisks carved with doors and windows, put there as grave markers for long forgotten kings. There were the ruins of the Queen of Sheba’s palace and of course, the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion. 

The Ethiopian Orthodox Christians consider the church a holy site. This same church is believed to be the site where Ethiopian emperors were crowned for centuries. It was maintained and guarded by the Coptic Christian priests and monks and is rumored by the church to be the true repository of the Holy Ark. In the distance we were from the church, we saw something glinting in the sun. We wandered over, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Ark. What we saw as we approached was a collection of crowns and jewels on a table in front of the church.

In 1963 I don’t think the priests of Axum had seen many tourists other than a lot of African pilgrims and the occasional army looking for a war rolling through. They did seem fascinated by my seven year old sister’s hair. She was almost white blonde which brought her a lot of attention from one of the priests in charge of those ancient crowns of the royalty of Axum. He came over to our group and freaked her out by fawning over her. He went back over to his table and grabbed one of the crowns and trotted back over. We were shocked when he placed it on her head!  He laughed and after a few moments, took it off and returned it. Unfortunately it happened too quickly for dad to think to get a picture, and the Ethiopian priest was too camera shy to do it again. Later, we often wondered if that crown was the one possibly worn by the Queen of Sheba!

After a day of trudging through the ruins and another night in the tukuls, we loaded up and headed home. It was fun to think of the history of the place we had just visited and the events legends said happened there, during Old Testament times. I have often wondered, since my sister Els had charmed the good monks and priests so much, if she had asked to see the Ark, maybe they would have trotted that out of the church for her. We will never know for sure. Later on, when the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark came out, we would laugh and say, it wasn’t in Egypt, the Ark was in Axum!  At least dad, in his hat and jacket looked as dashing as Indiana Jones. I wonder if we would have the guts to open the lid!