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December 6, 2001

(from the Letters to the Editor section)

‘Woody’ will be missed

I would like to take a moment to speak out on behalf of Robert “Woody” Woodward and his family and friends.

The Woody that I have been reading about in the newspapers over the past few days just did not exist. Woody has been working with my son Justin for the past few months. This man was in my home two nights a week and readily became a part of our family.

The picture I’m being painted of the man in the church that Sunday morning was just not the Woody that any of us knew and loved.

I can sympathize for the scared people in the church that Sunday morning, but in my opinion, I think that trained, veteran police officers should have been able to, or should have at least tried to, handle that situation a little differently than they did.

As someone who personally has struggled with depression and borderline personality disorder for most of my life up until a year ago, I’m not sure I would be comfortable with either of these police officers responding to any of the emergencies that I have had in the past.

For those officers, their families, and for those families and persons affected by Woody’s behavior Sunday, I honestly pray for you all. But the Woody we know and love up here in Springfield was not in that church on Sunday morning.

I run a used clothing ministry from my home here in Spring-field, and when I ended up with over 30 boxes of clothing left, sitting in my tiny living room, that no one could use, Woody volunteered to take about 20 of these boxes to a church in Brattleboro for me, where they have an open-to-the-public clothing ministry. He packed his little car full with these boxes, only to find out when he reached the church that they just did not have the space for these clothes.

Woody then took all the clothes to the Salvation Army in Keene, N.H., where he was then told that they would take the clothes but that they could not be in boxes. So Woody went and bought garbage bags, transferred all the clothing into the bags, and then carried them into the store. All to help me out.

I had neck surgery two weeks ago and have not been able to drive as a result, and twice last week, while visiting with my son Justin, Woody went to the middle school to pick up my son Gregory from basketball practice, as my husband did not get home from work on time to do so.

Last Tuesday evening Woody, who was hired to work only with my son Justin, took all three of my children to the movies, as he thought it would be nice for my husband and me to have a little break.

This past fall Woody went apple picking with my family at an orchard where he had previously worked. He stayed for two more hours with my son Justin after the rest of us left because Justin was bound and determined to catch a little brown rabbit that was running around loose.

This was a man with patience. Trust me, I don’t know many others who would have had the patience to hang out with an 8-year-old boy for this long, trying to catch a bunny, that he would just have to turn around and let go again.

Woody was a wonderful man that many will miss dearly, especially the little boys in Springfield that spent time with Woody one on one, like my son Justin.