Weightstill William Woods | Obituary


Weightstill William (“Bill”) Woods died on the morning of April 1, 2023, at age 97. Born June 27, 1925 in Chicago, IL, he was the youngest of five children born to Mary Holderness Woods and Weightstill Arno Woods.

Bill attended Cossitt Primary School in LaGrange, IL and Villa Park, IL Elementary School, and graduated from Elmhurst, IL High School in June 1942.

From September 1942 to May 1944 he attended the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps on May 30, 1944, at age 18. He was deployed to the Pacific, fought in the Battle of Okinawa in June 1945, and was assigned to occupation duty in Japan following the end of WWII. He was honorably discharged in 1946, after which he attended the University of California at Berkeley, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics in 1948.

While at Berkeley Bill performed in the premiere of Roger Sessions’ 1947 opera The Trial of Lucullus. Backstage, he met fellow cast member and mezzo-soprano Erin Kathleen Flanagan, who became the love of his life. After college

Bill headed east to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Erin soon followed to work in a research lab at Tufts Medical Center. The two were married on June 17, 1950, in Cambridge, MA. Bill completed a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in February 1951, and the young couple made a harrowing winter drive across the country to begin a new life in Washington State, where Bill took a job in aerospace at the Boeing Airplane Company.

They bought 20 acres of land east of Redmond, WA, and camped in an army tent while Bill built the initial phase of what would be their home for nearly seven decades. In 1955 their daughter Fronda was born, followed by their daughter LaVerne in 1957. Bill served as the Town Engineer and Manager of the Town of East Redmond from 1963 until its dissolution in 1964.

Together Bill and Erin sang in local choral groups, took up mountaineering, and pioneered bicycle touring in the Pacific Northwest. They wrote the popular Bicycling the Backroads guidebook series published by The Mountaineers, and cycled over 100,000 miles together. Bill cultivated their land, growing fruits and vegetables for his family, and donating the excess to local food banks. He retired from Boeing in 1991, with the title Technical Fellow. In retirement Bill and Erin devoted their property to tree farming and became active members of the Upper Puget Sound chapter of the Washington Farm Forestry Association, which Bill served as President from 2000-2001 and 2003-2004. In 2020 Bill donated the property to the nearby Bear Creek School for educational purposes.

Bill was preceded in death by his beloved wife Erin in 2019. He is survived, missed, and loved by his daughters Fronda Woods and LaVerne Woods, and his grandson Eric Hart Woods Zobel. Contributions in his memory may be made to Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.