By Brandon Martin
Jim Woods attended his final meeting as a member of Martinsville City Council on Dec. 8, but he didn’t leave without an abundance of kind words and gifts from his family, coworkers and friends.
Mayor Kathy Lawson said Wood’s personality was among the things she would miss the most.
“Your wit, your humor and your expansive vocabulary has truly enriched our meetings,” she said. “You have been a delight to work with and I so appreciate all that you have done for us. May you be blessed, wherever the Lord leads you.”
Vice Mayor Chad Martin focused on Wood’s personal character.
“Mr. Woods really cares about people,” Martin said. “To be able to see you around people, you don’t look at color and you don’t look at religion. You truly look at people and you look at their heart. I’ve learned a lot from you about that.”
Martin read a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt that he felt best described Woods: “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Martin then said, “brother, you are that man in the arena and I’m proud to serve with you.”
Council Member Jennifer Bowles also noted Wood’s role as both a coworker and a friend.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to get to know you, work with you and truly gain a new friend,” she said. “You’re a highly intelligent man. I’ve had to look up a lot of new words by working with Jim. I’m truly going to miss you and I wish you the best in everything that you do. I know that you are going to do it with the highest standard, with the most integrity, and always with a smile.”
Dan Woods, Jim Wood’s father, attended the meeting and offered the family’s perspective.
“We just wanted to say how proud we are of Jim,” Dan Woods said. “Peter said to the church ‘as each has received a gift, use it to serve others.’ When Jim was a little boy, we thought he wanted to go into politics. That’s all he talked about and I think he thought he wanted to go into politics, but what happened over the course of his life is he showed that he didn’t really care about politics. He cared about public service. On behalf of his mother, I’d like to say that we think you are a good citizen, and the best has yet to be. God bless you.”
City Manager Leon Towarnicki recalled a humorous incident involving Jim Woods at a Virginia Municipal League conference.
“The meeting opened a little late and for whatever reason, whoever was supposed to come in and represent the honor guard to officially start the meeting was late,” Towarnicki said. “The lady heading up the VML conference asked if we could all rise, recite the pledge and sing the national anthem.”
Noting Jim Woods’ ability to project, Towarnicki said “his singing of the national anthem in this room with probably 300-400 people was about 10 times as loud as what we hear normally. To the point where everybody in the room turned around and looked back at us.”
Towarnicki said that following the moment, conference attendees came back to Jim Woods “slapping him on the back and congratulating him for what a wonderful singing voice he had. It was quite an experience and that was a great memory.”
Lawson’s husband, Ralph Lawson, described Woods’ involvement in the community.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t come up and say thank you from the Martinsville Exchange Club,”
Woods expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve.
“It has been an honor,” he said. “I wanted to thank the former mayor Gene Teague, Mayor Lawson, Vice-Mayor Martin, and Council Member Bowles who had appointed me to this position. I appreciate the kind words and the magnificent gifts.”
Looking towards the future, Woods said he was uncertain of what he would do next, but he plans to approach it in the same manner.
“We don’t know where the Almighty calls us, but we know that wherever he calls us in that season that we should set our hand to the plow and do it,” Jim Woods said. “In everything that I try to do, I try to be truthful, equitable and hopeful.”
Woods was presented a key to the city and a plaque in honor of his service from August 2018 through December 2020.