Franklin lost a great friend and cheerleader with the death of George “Eddy” Woodard on Saturday.
Woodard, 73, was a graduate of Battle Ground Academy, a family man, a local business owner, a Franklin alderman and later operational head of Franklin’s water and sewer systems. His last job was with Jones Co.
Woodard was past president of the Franklin Noon Rotary, a Paul Harris Fellow and co-chairman of the Franklin Rodeo for about 20 years.
Woodard is described as a good guy, a great friend, a hard worker, smart, loyal, kind, witty, and an “oversized kid” with a creative sense of humor who will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
The son of the late Dorothy Davis Woodard and the late Ed Woodard, who served as Franklin’s major in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Woodard loved Franklin and, according to David Parker, a retired city engineer, “He was very proud that he never lived more than half a mile from the square.”
Charlie Fox III met Woodard while the two were in first grade at the Franklin Elementary School at Five Points. The friends went on to Franklin Junior High together, but when they hit their high school years, Fox headed to Franklin High and Woodard to BGA. After high school, Woodard joined his father’s business, Franklin Plumbing & Heating, where he remained with his brother Greg for almost 30 years.
“He knew every family in Franklin and crawled under every house,” said Brother Campbell, a longtime friend and Rotarian. “He knew all the stories, too.”
Since service was in his blood, it was no surprise when Woodard was elected to Franklin’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen, where he served until 1993, when he became director of Franklin’s water and sewer systems.
“(Eddy) knew plumbing and heating and he had knowledge of wastewater treatment and distribution lines,” said Jerry Sharber, a former Franklin Mayor, neighbor and friend. After the city started purchasing water from the Harpeth Water Utility District in Nashville, “Eddy brought to our attention the water pipes needed to be enlarged to transport water, and storage tanks needed to be added.”
Joe Williams, who worked closely with Woodard during his 13 years with the city, said, “Eddy modernized solid wastewater. If you look at Franklin today, much of the positives came from Eddy in that he was conscious of growth driven by sewers. He never took a position on the status of growth, but he said, ‘If you’re going to do this, it’s gotta be done right.’”
Woodard joined the Franklin Noon Rotary in the mid-1970s and reunited with Fox.
“He spent time serving the club anyway he could,” Fox said. “He never did anything halfway.”
Sometime in the early 1990s, then president Loy Hardcastle asked Fox, Woodard and Campbell to co-chair the rodeo committee. The rodeo was held at Jim Warren Park until the Williamson County Ag Expo Park opened in 2001 and the rodeo was the first major event.
“Eddy was a jack-of-all-trades,” Fox said. “One night we were having trouble with the speakers. Eddy found the problem and literally held two wires together and kept the sound going the rest of the night.”
When rain filled the arena at Jim Warren Park, “He was the first man with the pumps,” Fox said.
“Eddy really liked cooking cotton candy,” Campbell added. “By the end of the night, he looked like a polar bear.”
According to Joey Davis, Woodard’s cousin and a former Williamson County trustee, “Eddy was a good man. He was filled with jokes and he was very supportive.”
When Joey bought and opened Toby’s Restaurant in 1993, Woodard was a regular customer, and when Davis ran for trustee, Woodard was one of his biggest cheerleaders.
“We were always closer than cousins. We were friends,” Davis said.
Whatever Woodard was involved in, there was always a little bit of comedy, Fox said.
Parker recalled a golf trip to Pinehurst, N.C., where Woodard used chicken bones to distract him as he tried to hit the ball.
Sharber recalled telling Woodard he should “get an agent and go into the entertainment business as a standup comedian.”
“He was just the kind of guy people liked to be around,” Campbell said. “He never said anything bad about anyone.”
“No matter how you were feeling, when Eddy came into the room, you’d feel better when you left,” Fox said. “I can’t say enough about the guy.”
Woodard is survived by his wife of 52 years, Bonnie Lynch Woodard, daughters Melany G. Woodard and Christine Woodard McKinnon, grandsons Wilson Scott and Mason Thomas McKinnon, sister Glenda Woodard Bell and brother Gregory (Hilda) Woodard.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Williamson County Humane Society. Services to celebrate Woodard’s life will be held at a later date.