Wilma Woodard

  • "I remember lots of good times with my cousin Wilma Jean,..."
    - Phyllis Searcy McCants
  • "Bert, thank you for introducing your mother to us. A truly..."
  • "To all the family, you are all in our prayers at this time...."

Wilma Jean Cummings Woodard BEAUFORT - Wilma Jean Cummings Woodard, 78, of Beaufort formerly of Garner, died on October 29, 2013, at home in Beaufort, N.C., after a long illness. Mrs. Woodard was born on November 18, 1934 in Angier, N.C., to her parents Charlie Claude and Lutheria Searcy Cummings. Her years in Angier were highlighted by time with her maternal grandfather, Albert Searcy, "Papa," who would entertain her with stories and outings and Pepsi-Colas. Early in her elementary school years, her parents moved east to Harlowe, N.C., in Carteret County, where fate would have her eventually meet in school the love of her life, Warden Lewis Woodard Jr., whom she married in 1952. Her parents-in-law, Dr. Warden L. Woodard Sr. and Elizabeth Bulla Woodard of Beaufort, became her second parents after her parents died early in her marriage. After graduating from Beaufort High School, the couple moved to Chapel Hill, where Lewis earned undergraduate and dental school degrees from the University of North Carolina. They then moved to Garner where Lewis opened his dental practice. While in Garner, the Woodards raised daughter Mary Ellen and sons Ward, Bert and Richard, and Wilma went back to college and graduated with honors from N.C. State University, which has a scholarship in her name. It was also in Garner that Wilma got a taste of politics, first serving on the Garner Planning Board, and then being recruited by local Democratic officials to run for the six-member State House delegation from Wake County. She served with distinction for 10 years in the State Legislature, four in the House and six in the Senate, from 1976-86. She ran for the U.S. House in 1986 and narrowly lost the Democratic nomination. Her post political years were spent planning a return to their beloved Beaufort to a house by the water with Lewis, and then traveling the world after he died in 2000. Mrs. Woodard was preceded in death by her parents and husband, her son Richard Allen Woodard of Philadelphia, her brother-in-law, Dr. Clement Benson Woodard of Wilson; and her son-in-law Howard Raymond Moore of Jersey City, N.J. She is survived by her daughter; Mary Ellen Nixon-Moore of Jersey City, N.J.; son, Dr. Warden L. Woodard III (Debbie) of Charlotte; son Albert S. "Bert" Woodard (Phil) of Charlotte; brother Fred Donald Cummings (Sue) of Garner; brother James Richard Cummings (Sandi) of Garner; brother-in-law Allen Henley Woodard of Beaufort; sister-in-law Brenda Cross Woodard of Wilson; son-in-law Theofanis X. Nixon (Lauren) of Charlotte; grandchildren David Hunter Ramos (Allyson) of Hillsborough; Evan Theofanis Nixon of Trinidad, Calif.; Lindsay Marie Woodard Willis (Hunt) of Raleigh; Alexander Woodard Nixon of New York City; Warden Lewis Woodard IV of Myrtle Beach, S.C.; three great-grandchildren, and eight nephews and nieces. A celebration of life waterfront service will be held at Mrs. Woodard's home on Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 4 p.m with the Rev. John B. Carlisto, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Beaufort, officiating. The family will receive friends at the home from 3-4 p.m. The Woodard/Cummings Family would like to lovingly thank Mrs. Woodard's friend and caretaker, Mrs. Yardenia Jackson of Harlowe, who not only added to the quality of Mrs. Woodard's life, but became an important part of the family. In lieu of flowers, donations to Mrs. Woodard's scholarship may be sent to: N.C. State Foundation, Wilma Woodard Scholarship, Campus Box 7474, Raleigh, NC 27695-7474. Arrangements are by Brooks Funeral Home and Crematory Inc. of Morehead City. Access online obituary and Internet condolences through www.brooksfuneralhomeandcrematory.com.

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Published in Charlotte Observer on Oct. 31, 2013