Robert “Bob” Lee Woolford passed to his rest on Aug. 18, 2022, after a long journey with Alzheimer’s.
Bob was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on Sept. 9, 1940. His grandmother, Flora Dean Woolford, raised her four grandsons. She instilled a strong work ethic and respect for people. She would be proud of all four boys and the lives they led. Bob was born with cerebral palsy, and in his early days of life he wore braces, received treatments and therapy at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and attended Camp Greentop near Camp David. He never let his disability slow him down.
Bob is predeceased by his brothers, Harrel and Nelson; his brother Steven survives him. He leaves his wife, Betty, with whom he celebrated almost 59 years of marriage. His children, Ron and Valerie (Tad) entered this family filled with love, laughter and many family tales. He adored his grandchildren, Nate, Emme, and Libby Woolford, and Jaden Stricker.
He met Betty on her 16th birthday when she began school at Greater Baltimore Academy. It was not quite love at first sight but began a tale that he loved sharing. They continued to date while Betty earned her nursing degree. Bob attended Emmanuel Missionary College in Berrien Springs, Michigan, for four months. Then he determined that the best education is at the School of Hard Knocks!
Bob and Betty married in Baltimore, Maryland, on Sept. 1, 1963. Their first jobs were at Hinsdale Adventist Hospital near Chicago. They returned to Silver Spring, Maryland, where Bob worked at Sligo Seventh-Day Adventist School, and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The next move took them to Shawnee Mission, Kansas, where they were planning to serve at the “Mission” hospital for a couple of years before returning to Maryland. Now, 48 years later, their home is still in Shawnee!
Bob worked at Shawnee Mission Medical Center for 32 years in a variety of roles, and he touched many lives. Everyone has a story to share about his kindness, a practical joke he played, or many other uniquely Bob Woolford moments throughout the years.
His infectious laugh and grin from ear to ear were trademarks. One of Bob’s passions was the Infant Development Center (B.E. Smith Britain Development) at Shawnee Mission. He knew first-hand the challenges the children faced, and he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the program.
Bob served on many community service organizations throughout his career. He sought to make a difference in the place he lived and worked. Former Kansas City Royals and NFL Super Bowl groundskeeper, George Toma (inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2001), presented Bob with a congratulatory letter upon Bob’s retirement. Toma included a T-shirt with a phrase they both loved and that reflected their shared dedication to a job well done – “And then some!”
Bob was devoted to Seventh-Day Adventist education, and the Seventh-Day Adventist church. One of his major projects was chairing the Midland Adventist School Board of Directors and raising funds to construct a new building for generations of students and teachers to benefit from a first-class facility. Bob was also known in the Adventist church for his many years coordinating the nominating committee for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He walked hundreds of miles during six sessions.
Bob and Betty loved traveling around the world. The only continent they didn’t venture to was Antarctica. Bob loved life! He loved work! He loved his family and would do anything for them.
As Bob declined over the past 13 years, he lived out his life in the Bob Woolford fashion—his way. His grip crushed your fingers up until the final day. His words may have left many years ago, but his eyes twinkled, and his sweet smile flashed across his face when his bride, Betty, entered the room.
Bob shared on more than one occasion, “Having done all, after you’ve done all . . . just stand.” This is the testimony from Eph. 6:10-13. He lived with no regrets. He asked God to lead his life and to give him strength as He led his family. Bob will rest in peace until that day we are all reunited, and he will again laugh and share his stories.
Valerie Stricker is a member of the St. Louis Central Church and the daughter of Bob Woolford.