Wilfred “Willie” Woods, 69, passed away peacefully on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 with his beloved daughter at his side.
He was surrounded by family and his dearest friends throughout his final days.
Willie was born July 24, 1944 “just in the nick of time,” as his mother had spent all day enjoying the lake—far from either town or hospital.
He was the third son and seventh child of Marguerite and Billy Woods.
Willie worked alongside his dad, Captain Billy Woods, bringing the logs down the lake to the paper mill and then went on to work “in the bush” (as we say).
In 1975, he made his way to the Twin Cities, where he became certified as a nurse’s aide. Over the next 30 years, he cared for hundreds of individuals and was proud to say that no resident ever fell or hurt themselves under his care.
It was through his work at the Wilder Foundation that he met a fellow aide, Fran Case. The two made their life together, welcoming their only child, Melissa.
Willie was so devoted to his daughter; he worked double shifts to ensure Melissa could attend the private school she loved. He would think nothing of spending three hours transferring buses on his day off just to take her to the park and treat her to ice cream.
Thankfully, none of these sacrifices were lost on her; she loved to tag along “just for the ride.”
Willie followed Fran back to her hometown of Eau Claire Wis., when Fran was called home to care for her father’s ailing health. In turn, Willie became Fran’s aide when her own cancer became too much to bear, leading to her passing in March, 2013.
Willie was an easy-going, go-with-the-flow, patient, low-maintenance kind of guy. This said, he didn’t have any time for phonies, tomatoes, or voice-automated phone services.
He mistrusted cats (“I would never want one to hurt but I’d never want to pet one, either”). But he never met a dog he didn’t like (“There is no such thing as a bad dog, just a bad owner”).
He loved to read and if he wasn’t reading, he was listening to the radio. Willie had little use for TV, especially outside of football and hockey season. He cheered for the Minnesota Vikings, Wild, and Twins, as well as any team he considered the underdog.
He found it just as much fun to listen to the radio fans call in after a loss as he did for their joy at a win.
Willie could make a friend in the time it takes most to remark on the weather. He lived a full life and always had a story to share for anyone willing to listen.
He also liked telling jokes. You always could tell the punch line was coming because he would start to laugh to himself, three beats beforehand. By the time he could get it out, tears would be streaming from his eyes and he had to repeat it twice.
Gas station attendants, credit union clerks, pharmacists, and Walgreen’s, Culver’s, and McDonald’s employees–he considered all of these folks friends.
Besides his daughter, Melissa, the highlight of Willie’s life was his trip to the U.S.S.R. to attend the 1972 Summit Series (Team Canada vs. the Soviet national squad). Willie loved to share the journey he and his friend, Penti Aho, took that year to be able to witness “the goal heard around the world.”
He did all he could to help others. He spent afternoons giving free rides to and from the food pantry to total strangers. No deed was too small, from serving the community table to making sure “his” squirrels had only the best feed all year round.
Willie felt he best served the Lord through his work on Earth, and steadfastly believed in the Lord’s presence and plan for his life.
He will be deeply missed by his daughter, Melissa Case of Eau Claire, Wis.; siblings, Arthur (Chaw) Woods of Fort Frances, Ont., Rosie (Dick) Bird of Fort Frances, Ont., Lila Schaaf of St. Paul, Mn., and Lucille (Dolly) Johnson of Thunder Bay; the Harvey family of West Wickham, Kent; and his many nieces, nephews, cousins, family, and friends too numerous to list but nonetheless dear to his heart.
Willie is reunited with his parents, Billy and Marguerite Woods; partner; Fran Case; beloved and long-missed brothers, Eugene (Gene Boy) Woods and Donald (Gandy) Woods; sister, Beatrice “Snookie” Magel; as well as his much-adored cocker spaniel, Toby.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at 1 p.m. at the Sunset Country Métis Hall, 714 Armit Ave., in Fort Frances.