Des De Swardt
My Deepest Condolences to Jame's Family...rest in Peace James
James Baden Woodford( "Woody")
Our friend "Woody" died at 5.45 am on Monday the 12th of October 2015 after a long illness. He was in the company of family and friends at the end-Brother John and wife Lee,Dawn,Daniel, Siya, Janet my wife, and myself.We were joined by Wendy Robinson,his neighbour who is a retired Nursing Sister.She prayed for him and he slipped away in the last minutes peacefully. It was a moving and powerful experience. As youngsters at DHS our lives stretched endlessly in front of us. We now as older men face a different situation.
I knew Woody for 52 years. He was a truly good friend of the kind that are few-an old school pal for whom a handshake was enough and binding. We did Wine,women and song as young men and enjoyed more solid interests as we grew older. I was Best Man when he married Jenny.
We were at Varsity together. He was a Member of the SRC on the Durban Campus and graduated with BA(LLB) degrees. He practiced as an Advocate for 6 years and then went into business running a successful Cupboard Manufacturing concern.
He retired in Durban and later moved to Cathcart in the Eastern Cape. He returned to Durban and lived the last year of his life as our near neighbour in Westville.
He will be greatly missed by many friends here in SA and abroad.
A wake is planned for Tuesday 20th in Durban-to be confirmed. I will post details when his brothers arrive on Sunday.
RIP Old Friend
Woody was a very special person. I hadn't seen him since my late teens and early 20s - but he made such a powerful impact on my life - especially when I was down and out. He always treated me kindly and with respect - in spite of my circumstances. He was a warm and vibrant personality with a wicked sense of humour.
I regret that I never got to see him before the end. I count it a great privilege to have known him. Farewell my friend
Woody was a decent and gentle soul, and I wish the world was filled with more like him. My sincere condolences to his family.
The last time I saw Woody was nearly nine years ago, when I visited Durban. He, Geoff Caruth and I had a wonderful curry lunch at a restaruant in Musgrave Road and we got to reminisce about school days when we lived a few houses away from each other in St. Thomas's Road, getting up to a lot of nonsense, "borrowing" his mom's car to go for joy rides (no licences of course); and then as young guys when we had a regular Sunday night poker school at my home: my dad, Woody, Geoff, Clyde Bartel, Stern Frost and myself (and one other whose name I forget - forgive me, but please remind me if you read this!).
Woody also had a close relationship with my late cousin, Toni Levin, and this made us "almost" family! Even though we had not seen each other for so many years - when I saw him again, I had been living in Israel for nearly 20 years - but we picked up immediately, as if we'd parted just the previous day. Such was the friendship we shared.
I was so looking forward to seeing him again on my trip to Durban in another week or so. We had shared emails and messsages via this site until just a few months ago and there was no inkling whatsoever of any illness. But such things are difficult to share even with close friends.
I'm sorry that I won't be there for the wake, but I absoutely intend meeting up with Geoff and hopefully with John and Michael and drinking a toast to Woody - a true "gentle-man" who I was proud to call friend.
I bumped into Geoff Caruth on the afternoon of Sunday October 11th at the Westville Civic Centre where Geoff and I were walking our dogs. Geoff told me that Baden who I had always known as "Woody" was gravely ill. This came as a shock to me and I intended to go and see him as soon as convenient, but that didn't happen as he died on the following morning.
I have known Woody all my life - he and I were born six days apart - our late mothers were friends having attended school together. As babies our mothers used to meet in Berea Park and Woody an I often met there as boys. He was without doubt my oldest friend.
We grew up together and attended Musgrave Road Methodist Church. Youth Guild was on a Friday evening and after the guild meeting Woody and I and some of the other reprobates would sneak off to the Los Angeles Hotel beer garden, across St Thomas Road and have a few beers - they were only 16 cents in those days! For a Friday night out you could have five beers and a pack of smokes for one Rand.
School days were always fun with Woody around and we often got together after school as he lived just down St Thomas Road. One afternoon we were enjoying a quiet smoke in his bedroom. The match that I had used to light the cigarette, I carelessly threw out the window - or so I thought - it lodged in the curtain and set the curtains on fire. Woody and I grabbed the pelmet and threw the whole curtain out the window. There was hell to pay!
We often spent time together on my Dad's launch on the bay - Baden loved boats and sailing. I recall that Woody wasa keen Boy Scout and a bugler in the bugle band at school.
After School Woody did his military training at Voortrekkerhoogte and I was at Valhalla - right next door so we got together whenever we were able to and let rip.
Baden joined Standard Bank after this and was with them for several years until he decided to go to Natal University to study for and obtain a BA LLB. It was always fun to hook up with Woody whilst we were both at Natal University and go along with the League of Empire Loyalists to have tea parties or to clean statues of King George at Howard College or the statue of Queen Victoria in the City Gardens. The days of wine and roses!
After practicing as an advocate for a while Woody became involved in the furntiure industry. Neither law or industry held much of a challenge for Woody. He did at this time have a yacht on Durban bay and sailed it to the Caribbean.
Woody and I always spoke on our birthdays, his was the 24th July and mine is on the 30th. We got together as often as we could during the year or when he was in town whilst he was living in Cathcart.
Woody was always a gentleman. His word was his bond and you could do a deal with him on a handshake. He had an incisive enquiring mind. Being in his company was always a fun time - he had a keen - sometimes wicked - sense of humour. More recently we had the preogative of age - time to reminisce. Yes lots of good times and memories.
The last time that I saw Woody was at my Dad's funeral in February. He and I had a long chat and recalled all the good times we had together. I know that he enjoyed talking to my brother Selwyn and my sisters Lynn and Sue.
Baden did mention to me in July, when we talked, that his health was a problem but I had no idea that he was in such poor shape.
I am truly sorry that I did not get a chance to bid my friend farewell. However, Woody, hamba kahle.
A wonderful tribute Graham
I did not know Woody that well, but I can recall a very gentle and placid chap. I can see from the tributes posted from those who knew him better that he obviously enriched the lives of those around him. It is people like Woody that make this world a better place and highlights the brotherhood that is the D.H.S.O.B, fraternity.
When I heard that Baden (Woody) had passed away, it felt as though all my school memories (boyhood and youth) converged into single moment of great intensity—a terrible sense of loss. Baden and I had knocked about together from standard two on till we matriculated. He was always affable and easy going. At DPHS we did all the kids parties, home visits etc., and at DHS were sometimes in the same class. I have also experienced the dying and death of people close to me and understand how powerful that moment of passing is. It is singularly significant for the one witnessing it, especially if there is a close emotional tie. How wonderful that you were able to be there with him. That is a true crowning of friendship. In that he was also fortunate.
All the best
Thanks for your kind words-I think we are all more aware of our mortality now! Hope you have a restful Christmas and New Year
All the Best