Woodrow "Woodie" Assaf, 92, radio and television personality passed away Friday, November 13, 2009, at Riggs Manor Retirement Center. Visitation will be from 4 - 7 p.m. Friday, November 20, 2009, at Wright and Ferguson Funeral Home on High Street in Jackson and 9:30 a.m. Saturday, November 21, 2009, before the 11:00 a.m. Funeral Service at Alta Woods United Methodist Church. Burial will follow in Lakewood Memorial Park.
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Woodie was born in McComb on March 15, 1917. He graduated from McComb High School and attended Southwest Junior College and Louisiana State University. Woodie began his career at WSKB in McComb in 1937, and then left to attend Columbia Radio College in Chicago. He entered the Army as a private in 1941, advanced to the rank of 1st Lieutenant, and was a training officer during World War II. After discharge, he again entered broadcasting and worked for radio station WQBC in Vicksburg and then WJDX in Jackson. He went to work for WLBT-TV the day it went on the air, December 20, 1953. For several years he worked for both WJDX and WLBT, recording commercials, reporting news, sports and weather and selling advertising. He was best known as the Channel 3 Weatherman, a title he held longer than any other TV weatherman in the nation. He never claimed to be a meteorologist or forecaster. He only "reported" the weather, and said viewers wanted to know "when to plant their crops" and "how to dress their children for school". His tag line was always, "The weatherman told me to tell you
Woodie Assaf was an active member of his community and a charter member of Alta Woods United Methodist Church. He received numerous achievements and volunteer awards, and hosted many events and telethons. He brought Danny Thomas to Jackson to raise money to build St. Jude's Hospital in Memphis. After Hurricane Camille hit Mississippi in 1969, Woodie hosted a benefit that starred Bob Hope and raised more than $2.5 million dollars. He organized and hosted a benefit show for the victims of the 1979 Easter flood, and annually hosted the Easter Seal Telethon, providing services for thousands of Mississippians with disabilities. A benefit close to Woodie's heart was providing toys for needy children each year through Santa's Toy Chest. Each summer he entertained the troops at Camp Shelby. He emceed Jackson Day at the Neshoba County Fair every summer. He was the voice of the Hinds Hi- Steppers, and emceed countless beauty pageants and special events. He was the inspiration for the popular jingle, "What's Woodie Say?" He encouraged children's knowledge of science and weather through his nightly Weather School questions. Woodie loved coming into his viewers' homes each day, especially at Christmas when he delighted in tracking Santa on the radar. Of all of his achievements, Woodie said one of his most cherished honors was carrying the Olympic Torch on May 25, 1996, representing WLBT-TV.
His greatest love was his family. He is preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Ruby Nickey Assaf.
Survivors include his daughters, Deenie Grubbs of Madison and Debbie Hartzog (Rickey) of Madison; grandchildren, Ellis Grubbs of Birmingham, AL, Neal Hartzog (Jenny) of Chapel Hill, NC, and Katie Hartzog of New York City; great-grandson, Woodrow Will Hartzog; and many other family members.
The family would like to thank his many caregivers for their loving care, especially those at Riggs Manor and Camellia Hospice.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to Alta Woods United Methodist Church, 109 Alta Woods Blvd., Jackson, MS 39204 or your favorite charity.
Published in Clarion Ledger on Nov. 18, 2009