William Woodfield, seafood packer

November 05, 1993|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Staff Writer

William R. Woodfield, 86, a former seafood packer, lay preacher and a pioneer of Anne Arundel County's charter government, died Monday at the Pleasant Living Convalescent Center of respiratory failure after a lengthy illness.

He was born into a prominent southern Anne Arundel family and worked at the Annapolis Banking and Trust Co. until 1935, when he joined the Woodfield Fish and Oyster Co., a seafood processing plant founded by his family in 1917.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Mr. Woodfield was active in local politics, serving on an advisory committee to the Tidewater Fisheries Commission and on Anne Arundel's zoning commission.

He bucked the political establishment in 1964 as one of the leaders in the move for a charter form of government for the rapidly growing county. As a result of his efforts, the county commissioners tried to block his reappointment to the zoning commission. They failed.

And voters affirmed Mr. Woodfield's vision by approving the charter in 1965. Mr. Woodfield ran on a nonpartisan "charter ticket" and was elected to Anne Arundel's first County Council, promising to "turn the county right side up."

Phillip Scheibe, an Anne Arundel lawyer who also served on that first council, described Mr. Woodfield as a "gentleman," who pushed for the creation of the county library system and fought to ensure that southern Anne Arundel County received its share of money and services. "Bill Woodfield was not a real political type," Mr. Scheibe said. "He was more of a citizen politician. In that sense, he was the last of the real citizen-oriented type politicians."

That first council had to contend with a county that was almost bankrupt and had no public services, and a government that didn't even have its own office building, said Joseph W. Alton Jr., the first county executive.

"People like Bill Woodfield never got the credit they deserved," Mr. Alton said.

Mr. Woodfield served on the County Council for two terms before retiring in 1969.

He was a member of the Galesville United Methodist Church, taught Sunday school for more than 40 years and was a lay preacher. In 1956, he was named Layman of the Year in the church district.

He was past president of numerous organizations, including the Oyster Institute of America, Churchton Health Center, Anne Arundel Trade Council and the Community Chest of Anne Arundel County.

In 1963, he was named Citizen of the Year by the Citizen's Committee of Anne Arundel County.

Services were set for 11 a.m. today at the Galesville United Methodist Church. Burial will be in the Woodfield Cemetery in Galesville.

Mr. Woodfield is survived by his wife of 67 years, Grace Rogers Woodfield; three daughters, Peggy W. Watkins of Orrtanna, Pa., Shirley W. Day of Galesville and Elizabeth Crosby of Churchton; a son, William R. Woodfield Jr. of Galesville; three sisters, Mary Moreland of Lothian, Mildred Moreland of Galesville and Ruby Chapman of Lexington Park; a brother, Herman A. Woodfield Jr. of Fredricksburg, Va.; seven grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

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