BY STACIE LETT CAIN
Statesville City Council members voted Monday to name the new Statesville Fire Department Station No. 1 in honor of community leader William T. “Woody” Woodard.
By a vote of 6-2, the council approved a formal request to honor the late community leader made by several community members during Monday’s council meeting.
“We are asking that the new Statesville Fire Department be named as a reminder of William T. Woodard’s legacy and dedication to making this a better place while living in Statesville,” Woodard’s widow, Dorothy Woodard, said during the public comment period. “I watched him daily do everything he could for anyone who needed it. The family misses him, and the City of Statesville misses his leadership even more.”
Woodard, a military veteran, community leader, active volunteer and constant resource to anyone needing assistance, passed away in May of 2013. His loss is still felt today by those whose life he touched.
“I want to reiterate what everyone else has said about the person William T. Woodard was,” said Iredell-Statesville-Schools administrator Marlene Scott. “He is why I am what I am today, and he is why I do community work and will always serve my community in any way that I can. It would be an honor to all of us if that fire station was named after William T. Woodard.”
Many speakers recounted stories of his military service, his work assisting the homeless and encouraging voter turn out in the community, as well as his tireless work to provide services and resources to those in need.
“Woody received many prestigious awards for his work with the local chapter of the NAACP, but he was so much more than just that,” Susie Wiberg, Woodard’s neighbor and friend told the council. “He produced and worked the annual Back-to-School/Stay in School program.” According to Wiberg, he also raised money to pay for health services, such as mammograms and cancer screenings, for those who couldn’t afford it.
According to Todd Scott, current president of the Statesville Chapter of the NAACP, this recognition is not about the color of Woodard’s skin, but about the work he did for his community.
“This is not a black or white thing,” he explained. “Woody was in his 70s still handing out boots and clothing to the homeless. This is about honoring a good person.”
City Council member C.O. “Jap” Johnson, agreed that Woodard was a commendable citizen, but called attention to a policy voted on by a previous council stating that the council should not name city streets after individuals. Although Johnson explained that the policy discussions also included buildings and parks in that policy, those were not included in the written policy passed by council. City Council member Steve Johnson agreed that naming buildings after people would set a dangerous precedent. Both council members opposed the request.
Council member David Jones, who supported the request, said he based his decision on two questions: (1) Did the individual’s actions warrant such an honor? and (2) Did that person inspire others?
“I believe William T. “Woody” Woodard not only lived a life of service but was also very much an inspiration to those around him and that is why I believe we should name this fire station in his memory,” Jones said.