COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Grant Cuthbert “Cubby” Woodard, professional engineer, died of cardiac arrest while visiting a childhood friend in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Good Friday, April 6, 2012. He was 89 years old.
To all who knew him, Grant was a consummate gentleman, a great friend, a keen listener, and a sweet soul who believed in the power of love. He is sorely missed.
Born Jan. 21, 1923, on a farm outside Glen Elder, Kan., Grant was proud to be a descendent of the Mayflower passengers John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley, and the son of Harold Stephen Woodard and Frances Ellen (Ford) Woodard. In 1927, the family moved to Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis, Mo., where Grant was reared with his older brother, Stark, and his younger brother, Jack. A child of the Great Depression, Grant developed habits of frugality and wasting not. He described himself in later years as a “keeper,” as anyone who visited him at Heritage Grand then Parkway Place knew.
An athlete throughout his life, Grant played all the ball sports into his college years. Early on, he was an avid member of the “knot-hole gang,” a group of kids who watched their beloved St. Louis Cardinals through knotholes in the wooden fence surrounding the ballpark. In later years, Grant toured the ski resorts of the world on annual trips with a group of Cooper buddies.
Graduating from Webster Groves High School in 1941, Grant went to Washington University in St. Louis on an athletic scholarship. There he pledged Phi Delta Theta and joined the Navy Reserve Program. In January 1943, Grant transferred to Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., where Barbara Ann Martin, a girl from Kansas City whom he had met at church camp in 1940, was studying for her degree.
World events soon caught up with the 20-year-old. Grant enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force and reported to Jackson, Tenn., then to San Antonio, Texas, for pre-flight training. He had little leave time, some of which he spent with his family but mostly with Barbara, to whom he proposed in August 1944. In March 1945, Grant finished pilot training and received his wings with the rank of First Lieutenant. On March 14, he and Barbara exchanged vows and began married life in Liberal, Kan., then Victorville, Calif., where Grant spent the next six months mastering the B-24 Liberator bomber. Just before he was due to ship out to the Pacific, World War II ended.
Grant was in his element in an airplane. Along the way, he enjoyed many adventures, including one in 1966 when he heroically saved himself and three of his children on board his twin-engine Piper Apache with a forced landing in a cornfield following a freak midair collision. He loved flying and did so until his eyesight weakened. At age 75, he made his first of two skydives. He was an active member of the QBs (Quiet Birdmen) in Houston.
In 1946, Grant enrolled at Cornell University on the G.I. Bill, graduating with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1948. He and Barbara moved to Mount Vernon, Ohio, where he began his working career as a sales engineer for Cooper-Bessemer, an industrial firm headquartered there. He traveled extensively in the U.S. and Europe as his responsibilities grew in the Cooper sales division.
In 1966, Grant moved the family to Kansas City where he took a position with the Havens Steel Co. In 1970, he joined Fairbanks-Morse in Beloit, Wis. In 1971, Grant decided to work independently and moved with Barbara to Houston, Texas. His projects in Houston included a successful partnership with Louis Mogas in the manufacture of large, specialized valves for oil and gas machinery.
In 1997 after 52 years of marriage, Grant lost Barbara to pulmonary fibrosis. He continued living bravely, keeping up with his friends and doing all that he liked to do: Traveling as far as France to visit family and friends; managing the family affairs from his downtown office; attending church, as well as gatherings of the local Phi Delta Theta chapter, the QBs, the Civil War Roundtable, the Foreign Affairs Council, the Texas Society of Mayflower Descendants, and the Thursday night dinners in his Katy community to which he always brought corn bread.
Ever in excellent physical shape, Grant stalwartly survived three major challenges to his health: Prostate cancer in 1986; a subdural hematoma in 2005-06; and open heart surgery to thwart an ascending aortic aneurysm in 2008-09. His recovery from the latter two events was greatly speeded along by the constant care and support of his close friends and family.
Concluding a life well lived, Grant died while visiting Dolly, the woman who introduced him to Barbara so long ago. He is survived by his four children, Robin Lorraine Woodard of West Palm Beach, Fla.; Laura Elizabeth Woodard Devinney of Southampton, N.Y.; Grant Martin Woodard of Sanford, N.C.; and Douglas Arthur Woodard of San Rafael, Calif.; as well as by his nephew, Mark Stephen Woodard; and by his two nieces, Donna Marie Woodard Ziegenhorn and Linda Ellen Woodard Tippit; and by his nine grandchildren.
There will be a memorial service honoring and celebrating Grant’s life on Friday, May 4, at 11 a.m. at the First Congregational Church of Houston, 10840 Beinhorn Road. A reception to which all are welcome will follow the service.
Grant’s family asks that remembrance gifts be made in the form of a donation to any one of his charities, such as Houston Achievement Place, the Woman’s Home, the Barbara Martin Scholarship Fund at Carleton College, et al. Please visit Grant’s website at http://www.caringbridge.grant1.com" target="_blank">http://www.caringbridge.grant1.com or1 http://www.caringbridge.grant1.com target="_blank">http://www.caringbridge.grant1.com for more for details.
Submitted by Robin Woodard.Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.