Robert Charles Woodward
April 26, 1926 – December 11, 2022
“I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” II Timothy 4:47
Robert Charles Woodward completed his race on December 11, 2022. His faithfulness to God, along with his ever-present positive and grateful attitude carried him through to the end of his race with graciousness along the way.
Bob was born in Endicott, New York April 26, 1926 on a farm in a rural part of Upstate New York. His sister Shirley arrived shortly after. The young family lived on a small farm along a dirt road in Broome County where Bob enjoyed a simple way of life filled with farm work, the 4-H club that his mother started and led, and the farm animals. And on the day his father presented him with his own horse, Captain, Bob began a lifelong love of horses.
Bob also had a passion for reading. His mother taught him to read before he even started his formal education in a one-room schoolhouse where she taught. Bob loved school and loved to learn.
By 1942, the Woodwards had moved to Binghamton, NY. And then in 1944, when Bob graduated from Whitney Point High School, he enlisted in the Army Air Force. He was barely 18 at the time, and after military training in Casper, Wyoming, he was sent to Italy as a tail gunner on a B-24 combat crew to keep constant lookout for enemy planes. He served in Italy until the end of the war.
After returning to Binghamton, Bob met a blue-eyed beauty at a Brooktondale camp meeting, a girl with a very apt name: Belle Christensen. He was smitten, and they began a lifelong commitment of love and care for each other through many challenges.
Then, with the help of the G.I. Bill, Bob was able to attend Eastern Nazarene College in 1948. He attended for one year, married Belle, and the newlyweds headed West for Northwest Nazarene College in Nampa, Idaho to begin their lives together. He continued his studies at NNC while Belle stayed home, busy with their rapidly expanding family -- three daughters: Kathy, Jackie, and Kristie.
After graduating from Northwest Nazarene College in 1952, Bob got his first job teaching literature at Boise High School in Boise. His teaching was interrupted that year when he became a victim of the polio epidemic. He recuperated at The Elks for some time before he was able to return to school. In his absence, since Belle did not work, and since she couldn’t even drive a car, teachers at Boise High gave up their prep periods to cover Bob’s classes. As a result, the Woodwards were able to live on the income that Bob’s job provided, even in his absence!
In 1958, after finishing his master’s degree, Bob was asked to join the faculty at Northwest Nazarene College. This was his dream job, and he jumped at the chance.
In 1960, Bob was granted a leave of absence from NNC to study Pacific Northwest history with a Ford Fellowship that allowed him to work on his Ph.D. The whole family moved to Eugene, Oregon where he studied at the University of Oregon. He received his doctorate in 1963 and returned to teach at NNC for the next 33 years.
As a professor, Bob had high expectations for his students. He was known by his colleagues and students for his valuable insights and stimulating teaching style. He was also known for being a caring teacher who treated his students with dignity and respect.
Throughout his years at NNC, Bob enjoyed keeping score at school basketball games, and he never missed a game if he could help it. He not only loved sports, but he became a student of the games. Much later, in 2004, he was named to the NNU Athletic Hall of Fame for meritorious service to the athletic program for his decades of scorekeeping for NNC/U basketball games.
Bob retired in 1991 but continued working as the Northwest Nazarene College archivist. This was a natural fit for someone who loved NNC and its history.
Retirement meant travel for Bob and Belle. With their trailer and their dog, they covered most of the United States, sightseeing and visiting relatives and friends along the way. They also enjoyed a trip abroad in Europe, Hawaii, and a cruise through the Panama Canal.
Throughout his career, Bob cherished the friendships he developed with the NNC faculty and staff. He camped and traveled with them, but one of his favorite retirement activities was meeting up with friends for coffee on Wednesdays at the NNU Alumni House for stimulating conversations.
As a father, Bob tried his best to figure out what his daughters’ interests were, and then he did his best to provide opportunities for the girls to experience and learn more about those interests. And, of course, with his teacher experience, he couldn’t pass up any opportunity to widen his daughters’ horizons, knowledge, and experiences through travel and the arts. He excelled at that.
Bob is survived by his sister Shirley, Belle -- his bride of 73 years, and his three daughters Kathy Gagnon, Jackie (Bob) Ecker, and Kristie (Dan) Close. He has also left behind seven grandchildren, followed by eight great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on January 21, 2023 at 1:00 pm at Alsip & Persons Funeral Chapel located at 404 10th Avenue South in Nampa, Idaho, 83651.
In lieu of flowers, Bob asks that you contribute to The Robert C. & Belle M. Woodward History Scholarship at Northwest Nazarene University. “A most satisfying way to honor a loved one or friend is to invest in a life yet to be lived.” Contact the Office of University Advancement at (208) 467-8772 to contribute.