William R. Woods, age 88, passed away on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023, in Chester.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 21, at the Chester Community United Methodist Church (510 Monroe Ave., Chester, Mont.), followed by a reception for friends and family. Bill will be laid to rest at Highland Cemetery in Havre with a committal service at 2:30 p.m. Please visit Bill’s online memorial and leave a message of condolence for the family at www. asperfh.com.
William R. Woods was born Dec. 3, 1934, in Vegerville, Alberta, Canada, to William Roscoe and Violet Hayter Woods. They lived in a two-story log house in Warwick, Alberta, Canada. In 1949, the family moved to Montana and made their home a few miles north of and between Rudyard and Inverness. They were dryland wheat farmers who were active in their rural community.
Bill attended the Inverness Elementary School, but later transferred to Joplin High School after the Inverness High School lost accreditation for a brief period during World War II. He graduated from Joplin High School in 1953. Music played an important part in Bill’s life growing up. Bill’s dad, Roscoe, played the banjo, Bill played the trombone and brother Walter played the trumpet.
After high school, Bill started his college career at Rocky Mountain College in Billings. He would tell the story of when the dean called him into the office and told him Rocky was not going to be able to provide him with the education he wanted to pursue. Therefore, he transferred to Montana State University in Bozeman and graduated in 1957.
Bill taught in Twin Bridges for a year and in Ekalaka, Mont., for a couple of years.
On July 13, 1963, Bill married Sharon Hagen, a music teacher, in Glasgow, Mont., on a steaming hot day. It was 103 degrees! They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last summer.
Bill and Sharon made a home and career teaching in Culbertson, Mont. Bill was the vo-ag/shop teacher and FFA advisor from 1964 to 1984. He led quite a successful FFA program, preparing his students for state and national FFA conventions and winning many awards. His shop class produced teams that competed successfully in the Plymouth Trouble Shooting contest, also winning several awards.
Bill really enjoyed hunting, fishing and flying his plane. He took several fishing trips flying into Alaska and northern Canada and, in fact, he, along with parent chaperones, would take his FFA students on fishing and camping trips in northern Canada at the end of the school year. Bill was also very involved in the Lions Club and particularly involved in their vision program. Bill was awarded the Melvin Jones Fellow Award.
Most of all, Bill loved teaching and farming. He farmed on the weekends and taught during the week, commuting between Culbertson and Rudyard in the fall and spring until summer break when they’d stay in Inverness.
After retiring from teaching in 1984, Bill and Sharon returned to the farm to live and farm full-time. In 2014, Bill officially retired from farming and leased his farm to his young cousin Matthew Woods, so, in a way, he was still teaching farming and sharing stories about the family’s early years to the next generation.
Bill was an active member of the Inverness United Methodist Church and later attended the Chester United Methodist Church. Bill accompanied his mother to church, and Sharon was the church organist. Bill was also a proud Godfather at Lauren Woods’ baptism and always remembered cousin Greg’s children through the years at Christmas and birthdays.
Throughout their lives and especially in their retirement, they enjoyed traveling and acquired multiple timeshares around the U.S., but their favorite place to vacation was in Hawaii and Sedona, Ariz. They also took many trips to Hawaii and created photo albums to enjoy in their later years. Sharon’s sister Shirley Boley accompanied them on many trips as well. Bill and Sharon did not have children of their own, but they enjoyed spending time with Shirley’s son Casey. Bill was an important father figure in Casey’s life. Casey especially remembers going to East Glacier snowmobiling to hand-cut the family Christmas tree.
Bill is survived by his wife of 60 years, Sharon Woods; a brother, Walter (Ann) Woods of Hermiston, Ore.; sister-inlaw, Pearl Hagen of Glasgow, Mont.; nephews, Casey (Angie) Boley of Inverness, Dan (Kim) Woods of Redondo Beach, Calif., Richard (Carie) Hagen of Colorado Springs, Colo., Robert (Michelle) Hagen of Broomfield, Colo., and Ronald (Lori) Hagen of Boise, Idaho; nieces, Joanie Woods (Gerald) Moore of Hermiston, Ore., and Laura (Frank) Dorchak of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and cousins, Greg (Elizabeth) Woods of Inverness, Scott (Kathy) Woods of Treasure Island, Fla., Linda (Matt) Guzik of Mangawhai, New Zealand, and Donald Han of Inverness; and many great-nieces and -nephews.
Bill was predeceased by his parents; brother, Barry; sister- in-law, Shirley Boley; and brother-in-law, Jerry Hagen.
The family would like to thank special caregivers Jocelyn Woods, Mandy Sanders and the staff at the Logan Health Center and Wheat Country Estates for the excellent care they gave Bill in his final years.