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A. Leon Woodward, 82, the son of the late Frank and Olee Woodward, was born in Plevna, Missouri, January 31, 1927. He died Wednesday, February 11, 2009.
He was preceded in death by an older sister, Margaret, an older brother Joe, and two granddaughters.
He began teaching at Campbell School- a one-room school serving all eight grades. He rode his horse to school in time to sweep the floors and build a fire before the children arrived. His monthly salary was $70. During the summer Leon attended the teacher’s college in Kirksville, MO- now known as Truman University. Leon was hired to teach at the two-room school in Plevna. Then he taught in Edina, MO, the county seat.
Leon was called to service during the Korean War. Most of his unit was sent to Korea, but Leon was transferred to the Chaplain’s Section and sent to Germany.
When he returned from the service, he was able to attend college on the G.I. Bill. While there, he was active in leadership roles in several organizations. He was the co-founder of the Alpha Kappa Lambda Fraternity which stressed service and academics. As president of the fraternity, he was honored to serve in the Blue Key Honor Society, a group of young men who planned many of the college activities.
In August of 1954, he married Mary Lou Lovelace of Vandalia, MO, who was also attending teacher’s college. They moved to St. Louis where both taught in the St. Louis Public Schools. Leon taught at Arlington, Beaumont, Blow, Shepard, before assigned as a principal. He served at Mt. Pleasant, Kennard, Shaw, Long Middle and Garfield schools in that capacity.
Four sons were born to the Woodwards. Son Charles married Rayne Counts, and they have two children- Cole and Sage; Paul married Jean Sullivan, they have four children- Brian, Margaret, Kessie, Tori and the two girls who are deceased; Robert married Jody Dorris; Bill has one son- Kyle.
The Woodwards attended Hamilton Avenue Christian )Disciples of Christ) Church where Leon served as Director of Education and led the team which built the new Hamilton Christian Church before moving to South St. Louis and Watson Terrace Christian Church. Leon and Mary Lou directed youth choirs at both churches. In later years, they moved their membership to Oak Hill Presbyterian Church.
Leon was appointed to the citizen board of CDA. In that capacity, he helped found the OakHill Neighborhood Association and the Grand Oakhill Community Corporation. Leon and Mary Lou wrote and distributed newsletters for both groups. Leon was especially pleased when he received the Delores Abkemeier Community Service Award from GOHCC.
Both Woodwards were active in Missouri State Teacher’s Association at the local and state levels. Leon was the local representative for the state conventions for many years. He was the legislative chairman for both MSTA and AARP. Leon served on the Heritage House Board, an apartment building designed for teachers.
After retiring from the school system, Leon was selected to serve Senior Challenge, an organization which limited their number to 20 seniors who were willing to work to make better conditions for our beloved city (St. Louis).
The Woodwards have enjoyed traveling with their family as well as feeding ducks at Tower Grove Park and attending many art endeavors. Photography, writing, family history have left his family with many wonderful memories.
In addition to their sons, Leon has one nephew, Joe Don and Shirley Stout who have two children, Kyle and Sonya. Their families continue to reside in the Plevna Community. He also leaves one brother-in-law, Marion and Ginny Lovelace who have two sons- Craig and Corey Lovelace. They live in Morganton, North Carolina.
Services were held Friday, February 13, 2009, at the Kutis Funeral Home, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri, with interment at the Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis County.