by Nathanael Wales
From the Editor: Nathanael Wales is a tenBroek winner of two national scholarships. He is kind, gentle, and reflective. Here are his memories of Bruce and Betty Woodward, two fine Federationists who are responsible for our having an affiliate in Connecticut:
It is my humble pleasure to share some words or perspective on the passing now of Betty Woodward (Bruce passed in March 2018). I am by no means adequate to do so, but I am happy to help see that they are honored as best I can.
As a bit of my own history, I had heard of them from a very good friend of mine, Jason Ewell, who had spent some time earlier that year in Connecticut helping to organize, advocate, and train affiliate members. Living and working on the other side of the country, I had not known them, but I was delighted that a couple that such a good friend of mine had such respect and love for was a highlight of the 2003 National Convention banquet. I went to the Braille Monitor archives and found the article on the presentation: https://www.nfb.org/sites/www.nfb.org/files/images/nfb/publications/bm/bm03/bm0309/
bm030905.htm. Thank you for ensuring we have such great history and documentation. This material may also be helpful, and it captures their love and spirit well.
I am always humbled when thinking of Betty and Bruce Woodward. Bruce was the long-time Connecticut affiliate treasurer and chair of the academic scholarship committee. As Bruce retired from these roles between 2012 and 2015, I agreed with him and our affiliate leadership to take over these responsibilities. There is no way, however, in which I can truly fill the shoes Bruce wore. Bruce and Betty had handled these roles with such grace, dignity, gentleness—in one word, love. Their devotion to every Federation member and the work they did, whatever it was, permeated everything that they set their hearts and hands to. “Quiet” and “hardworking” were used to describe them when the Federation awarded them its highest honor for a member, the Jacobus tenBroek Award, in 2003, and having seen their leadership firsthand, I couldn’t agree more.
I first actually met the Woodward’s when I moved to Connecticut in 2007 at the affiliate state convention. They welcomed me warmly, as I saw them welcome every new person at that convention. Over the past twelve years I saw them welcome, mentor, and work alongside many, many members and blind people new to the Federation. Whether it was at a chapter meeting, an affiliate quarterly board meeting, a state or national convention, or advocating in the halls of the US Congress, they were both always filled with gentleness, determination, and love. That gentle spirit and love for everyone, and especially every Federation member, challenge me every day that I put on the shoes of leadership and service—left for all of us—that I am slowly growing into.
Thank you so much for allowing me to honor the Woodward’s.