James L. Woodward

James L. Woodward, left this earthly life on August 27, 2016.

He was born on March 31, 1932, in the heart of the Great Depression that began with the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929, in East St. Louis, Illinois, which was then the “All American City.”  He was blessed to born into a long life, the youngest child of 11 siblings and had loving parents, Samuel Ellis and Ruth Lulu Woodward.

His mother, Ruth, was a strong role model.  She handled the large family, daily baked bread for the children to sell in the neighborhood, cooked and cleaned.  She was always patient, and she listened and found time to give to each of her children.  She ushered all her children to church faithfully. James retained this lifelong belief that Jesus Christ did forgive his sins and that he saved by the blood that Christ shed for him into eternal life. James was blessed into the Community of Christ Church as an infant and remained a member until his death.

His father, Samuel Ellis, was 59 years old when Jim was born.  He was working at Swift’s Packing Company, and retired at age 65, when Jim was a small child, at age 6.  His father had many interests and always kept the family entertained.  Jim was cared for by his bevy of brothers and sisters, and he remained the baby of the family to all of them.  He always loved women and was very comfortable in their company.  All his sisters were special to him, but his sister Doris and he had an especially tight bond, as she was only about 15 months older than he.  His older brothers were a tight knit band of characters, and a common theme of family remained their whole life long.

Jim always remembered his childhood as a happy time.  It was fun growing up, even in hard times.  East St. Louis was a wonderful place, and the city was his playground.  He could go down to the stock yards and ride the cows and horses, he played in the massive railroad yards, and he would hitch little rides on the trains.  His favorite cousin, Bill Newbold, was just a teenager, but he was the young entrepreneur of the family.  Bill was the head usher at the Majestic theatre and could always get Jim into a movie.  Bill also ran the concessions at Jones Park, so Jim could always go swimming or play with the paddle boats if he was bored.  Jim also liked to play baseball, cork ball, football and had many foot races with friends. He was always on the lookout for a pickup game in a school yard, the parks, or the streets.

Jim’s real love was baseball.  He pitched on the Khoury League, 10 to 13 Team, for the Fire Department.  He recalled many times beating Bob Turley, who played for Rice Electric in the same league.  Bob Turley stuck with baseball, was signed by the Yankees, and pitched for them for several seasons.  Jim was also a talented, fast athlete, who did have a natural curve, when he threw the baseball.  His lifelong regret was that he did not have an opportunity to see whether he could have made it into the Major Leagues.  Jim’s family obligations always came first, and he had to put his athletic dreams on hold to care for his parents.  Later, he was told by someone that he had thrown away his arm by pitching too many baseballs and cork balls.  We will never know what might have been.

Jim’s life has been one of service to others, as a child about 9 or 10, and  his brothers were away fighting in WWII, a Turk named Ishmael gave him a Newspaper corner in East St. Louis.  It was a very busy corner, and on the first Saturday night as Jim was being taught to yell “Post, Globe, and Journal”, he became aware of the big tippers coming out of the Paddock Club.  He became proficient at recognizing the big tippers, and his pockets, would soon get stuffed with money.  His elderly father would stop by several times a night to pick up the money.  At that time, his father’s pension check was only $21 dollars a month, so his parents desperately needed Jim’s paper corner money to pay household bills.

He worked for a while as a messenger boy on a bicycle in St. Louis for the United Way, and did a stint as an elevator operator in the Ambassador Building.  On the day he was eighteen years old, he went to work at Hunter Packing Company.  For 10 years when his children were small, he worked,  as a baker for Wonder Bread in a hot bakery at night and continued days in a refrigerated or freezer environment at Hunter’s Packing Company.  He was never without a paycheck from eight years of age until an accident when he was 58 years old.  With his working life ended, he finally retired with 44 years of service to Hunter-Krey Packing Company.

Jim served the US Army during the Korean War.  He was in charge of a 105 Howitzer gun.  It was his job, to drive up nonexistent mountain roads, dragging the gun and to fire at targets up to 30 miles away.  It was very cold, and he suffered frost bite on his fingers, which troubled him the rest of his life. It was also very loud and in those days.  Since there was not any ear protection, so that is why he lost her hearing early in life.  He did not talk much about Korea, but he was proud to be one of four brothers who served their vountry during war times.  He did receive a Presidential Unit Citation, which is listed on his DD214, but he couldn’t remember what it was for.  He does recall one time when they had to keep their gun firing for over 30 hours, as a large army was trying to march over a mountain from North Korea.  If they had made it, the history of South Korea, would be a different one.  They stopped the advance, and later, when they were all too tired to stand, they were told to stand at attention, and someone spoke of this wonderful thing they had just done, so he thought that might have been what it was for.  His last assignment in Korea was after the war had ended, and he had to march POW’s back to the DMZ to be repatriated to North Korea.  He remembers that as his worst Army job.

Shortly after he came home from the Army, he met and married a beautiful brunette, Shirley Ann Joines.  To this union was born 5 children.  Shirley passed away as a young mother, at only 34 years of age and after 14 years of marriage.

Later he married Verna Dean Wolfe Warren, and he was delighted to be the father to two more girls.  Jim and Deana recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary.   Jim and Deana had a very busy, happy household with lots of people coming and going at all hours of day and night.  The social calendar was always active, with all the school activities, graduations, dances, parties, band practices and performances, ball games of all sorts, weddings, and working all of their jobs.  Everyone eventually worked at the Holiday Inn or at Hunter before they left home.

As the Children grew up and left home, there were still many Sunday dinners and holiday celebrations, as sons and daughters-in-law joined the family, to watch the grandchildren grow up, and now the great grandchildren have joined this happy James L. Woodward family circle.

Jim was a lifelong Cardinal baseball fan.  In his retirement years, he became acquainted with Terry Moore, the Captain for the old 1940’s Cardinal teams.  Terry was said to have the “greatest outfield in the history of the game of baseball.”  Terry was the center fielder, Stan Musial was the left fielder and Enos Slaughter was the right fielder.  Terry introduced Jim to Enos and Stan, which was a highlight in his life.  In the I-70 Series with Kansas City, the night that Don Denkinger made the bad call in game 6, we were all at a 25th anniversary celebration for Terry and his wife, Patty, at their home.  We all watched that game, and what a night it was!  Enos and Terry never sat down during the game.  They were nervous wrecks!  Jim counted it a privilege to be able to assist Terry in the last few years of his life, taking him on errands and taking him to the Doctor during Terry’s long cancer battle.  Shortly after we lost Terry, we made a trip and the last place we visited on the trip was the “Field of Dreams” in Iowa.  It was exactly like the movie, cornfields and all.  It seemed to us that our old baseball player would come walking out of the corn.  It was a very spiritual experience.

Jim was blessed with a long retirement.  He and his wife Deana vacationed plenty, rode hours and hours on the families’ many boats, watched the  children and grandchildren perform water sports while riding backward at Bull Shoals Lake and many other lakes.  They provided lots of food and beverages, traveled extensively, many times to Jimmy and Linda Ryan’s in Semi Valley, California, and Las Vegas.  They went to Hawaii; and saw many National Parks visiting the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Great Redwoods to name a few.  In general, they had a great time.  They went on a cruise in the Gulf of Mexico.  In the final years of their lives, they cared for his older brothers, Uncle Woody, Uncle Richard, and Aunt Mary, and his beloved Sister Doris.

In conclusion, his family was his life.  He did love baseball, but nothing else never seemed to interest him much except diamonds and Cadillac’s.  He always said, “It is so unfortunate that most people, only just get to take their final ride in a Cadillac.  However, I’ve gotten mine to drive from coast to coast for many years.”  About the diamonds, he did love to get dressed up, put on his diamond rings, and put the stick pin on his tie.  I think his idea of Heaven would be to be dressed up in his diamonds riding in his ’94 Cadillac heading to the Field of Dreams!

Seriously, what he most enjoyed was just getting everyone together,  hosting of all the family celebrations, weddings, births, christenings, graduations, and all of the Holidays, especially Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving, where he could hear what was going on in each life and wishing all the best for his Family.

He was preceded in death by:

His parents, Ruth L. (Stivers) and Samuel Ellis Woodward

His first wife, Shirley Ann (Joines) Woodward

Shirley’s parents, Ruth and Lewis W. Joines

Deana’s Parents, Clarence E. and Estes Wolfe

His brothers and sisters, along with their spouses:

Lillian M. and Louis Hofflinger

Orville D. and Freda Woodward

Dorothy M. and Charles Hytla

Woodrow W. Woodward

Bernard N. Woodward, who died in infancy

Vivian R. and James Ryan

Charles R. and Mary Woodward

Eileen L. and John Kusior

Howard H. Woodward

Doris Ann and Thomas Layton

Sister-in-law, Eloise and Walter (Bodie) Hayes

Brother-in-law, Rev. R. Dale and Lois Wolfe

Brother in law, Delmar W. Wolfe

Brother in law, John B. Wolfe

Grandson, Micah Joel Gifford

Grandson, Guy Tyler Gifford

Great grandson, Isaiah D. Gamache

Great granddaughter, Addison Bryn Woodward

Nephew, Gary Woodward

Grand nephew, Nathaniel Lee Staley


His wife, Verna Deana Wolfe Woodward survives.

He is also survived by his children and their spouses:

Deena Joy and James Jaryl Pilcher

Cynthia Denise and Stephen J Kimutis

James Lee and Carmen Cita Woodward

Tammy Marie and Carl Blackwood

Jana Gay and Charles R. Wentzel

Jeffery Lewis and Martha Woodward

Karla Sue and Steven Troy Arnotti

Grandchildren and their Spouses:

Ashley Rae and Brett M. Swip

Stephanie Jo and Nicholas E. Luchtefeld

Lauren Elise and Matthew B. Gamache

Courtney Ann Kimutis

Erika Justine Wentzel

Zachery Michael Pappas

Jared Russell Wentzel

Jacob Lewis and Kayla Woodward

James Ray (JR) Woodward

Samuel James Woodward

Sarah Nicole Pappas

Jacee Sue Woodward

Tiara Danyelle Blackwood

Dane Aaron Blackwood

Catherine Elise Martin

Great grandchildren:

Kelsey Ann Luchtefeld

Conner David Luchtefeld

Elias Matthew Gamache

William Braden Swip

James Tyler (JT) Swip

Aaron Micah Gamache

Aubrey Nicole Luchtefeld

Reece Avery Woodward

Madeleine Grace Gamache

Brother-in-law,  Donald and Dottie Joines

Sister-in-law, Mary Ellen Woodward

Sister-in-law, Yvonne Glen E. Lathrop

Brother-in-law, Gail E. and Carolyn Wolfe

Sister-in-Law, JoAnn Wolfe

He had special bonds with:

Niece, Connie Ellen and Joe Martin

Grand nephew, Nicholas Patrick and Melissa Staley and their Daughter, Rylee Nicole

Nephew, James and Linda Ryan and their children, Jessica, Sara, Kathy and David

Nephew, Kenneth and Sue Woodward and their daughters, Kim and Stacie

Nephew, Donald Hytla and his daughters, Debbie and Judy

Niece, Kathy and Gary Brumm and their children, Shelly, Tiffany, and Gregory

He is fondly missed by numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grand nephews, great grandnieces and great-grandnephews.

Visitation will be from 4pm to 8pm on Monday August 29, 2016 at Barry Wilson Funeral Home in Maryville. Everyone is encouraged to wear St. Louis Cardinal Baseball attire.

Funeral service will be at 10am on Tuesday August 30, 2016 at the funeral home with Elder Judy Loyd officiating. Burial with military honors will be in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to 3 Little Birds 4 Life https://www.flipcause.com/secure/cause_pdetails/MTA0MjI= and will be received at the funeral home.

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