William H. "Bill" Woodward (1926-2018)

William H.
William H. "Bill" Woodward

William H. “Bill” Woodward, who operated linotypes then computers over a four-decade career at The Blade, fought for Gen. George S. Patton in World War II, and ensured the clock above The Blade’s main entrance always told the correct time, died April 17 at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. He was 92.

Angela Woodward, his wife, said he had coronary artery disease.

He was a Woodward High School graduate, though unrelated to the school’s namesake. He graduated from the school in June, 1944, and was drafted by the Army that September, according to a 2006 interview he did for the Veterans History Project that was archived with the Library of Congress.

“Practically my whole neighborhood were all drafted at the same time,” said Mr. Woodward, who also went to Stickney Grade School.

Training was cut short because of the German offensive that winter that became known as the Battle of the Bulge, and new recruits were rushed via the HMS Queen Mary to the United Kingdom, and then immediately to the front lines, he said.

“You didn't stand close to the rail, because there were so many guys sea sick,” he said.

Assigned to the 10th Armored Division as the Battle of the Bulge was ending, he first was a radio operator, but “as the ranks became devastated” he eventually shifted into a machine gun operator as the division advanced into Germany. The division stopped in Mittenwald, Bavaria, a location Mr. Woodward became quite fond of and returned to on several occasions. 

“He just ended up loving it,” Mrs. Woodward said.

He was a Bronze Star recipient. He suffered a knee injury that caused him pain through the rest of his life.

Mr. Woodward began a 42-year career at The Blade in 1949, first working as a printer in the composing room, and then as a head computer technician. He developed programs and techniques that improved operations, retired Blade systems director Lee Gagle said.

“He was a natural,” Mr. Gagle said.

A 1964 profile as part of the “Meet The Blade Family” series described Mr. Woodward as a handyman at home, constantly fixing electronics, appliances, and furniture. 

He was “johnny on the spot” when it came to helping co-workers with technical problems, and even became something of the in-house clock repairman. Clock collection became a hobby of he and his first wife, the late Jean Woodward (Kruse), acquiring up to about 150, Mrs. Woodward said.

He’d take calls late at night to come fix the clock above The Blade’s main entrance; one frequent problem was solved when he discovered someone was turning off a switch at night, his wife said.

Born Feb. 23, 1926, to Effie Mae (Hively) and Harry Woodward, he was a lifelong Toledoan, moving in October to North Carolina to be near Mrs. Woodward’s family. His first wife — with whom he had sons David Woodward and the late Bill Woodward — died in 1993, and he married his second wife in 1994.

Mr. Woodward was heavily involved for more than 60 years with the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, and was a member of the Arab Patrol and Road Runner Unit. He was drawn to their work with children, frequently waking up early to drive a child to a hospital, his wife said.

Mr. Woodward is survived by his wife, Angela Woodward, son David, three stepchildren, and 11 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. June 1 at Reformation Lutheran Church, 4543 Douglas Rd. The family suggests tributes to Wounded Warriors or Shriners Hospitals for Children.