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Jack Bryan Woody

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Jack Bryan Woody Obituary
Woody, Jack Bryan

Fish and Wildlife

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Son of Frank Woody and Helen Twelvetrees passed away on Thursday, April 26, 2016 after a long battle with cancer.

Jack was preceded in death by Kathy his wife of 61 years.

Jack's survivors include Jack Woody Jr. and partner Josh, William Woody and wife Tracey, Carol Woody and husband Joel, Bob Woody and wife Kathy; grandchildren, Bryan and his wife Lyndsey, James, Stephen, Ashley, Shelby, Elisa, Emily; and great grandson Jack Bryan Woody III.

Jack served in the Navy during the Korean War. After the war he graduated from UC Humbolt and took a job with Nevada Fish and Game for five years. He accepted a job with the US Fish and Wildlife Service where he received the General Chuck Yeager Conservation Award and 25 Year Distinguished Service Award. His friend, Mike Spear, shared the following with Jack two days before he passed away. Jack joined the Service in 1969 in Washington D.C. He lasted less than a year there. He hated the bureaucracy. That is a lot of what you need to know about Jack. Luckily for many species he did not leave the Service; he just transferred to the Albuquerque Regional Office.

For the next decade he worked throughout the Southwest on various species reintroduction programs. By that time there was a precursor to the Endangered Species Act with no regulatory teeth but it did contain a list of species in trouble. Jack played a significant role in starting the red wolf and Mexican wolf programs. During this time he also aided many Indian tribes in developing modern wildlife management programs. In December 1973 the Endangered Species Act was passed. No one knew how that would change the Service, but Jack was perfectly situated to take advantage of the new law to conserve species. Suddenly there was a list of species with a legal mandate and growing financial resources to conserve them. It was early 70s that Jack found a niche that would be his primary focus for the rest of his life-sea turtles. He formed a relationship with Archie Carr, the first sea turtle guru, and began to focus on the recovery of the Kemps Ridley-the most endangered sea turtle species. Many others can better relate the early story of Kemps recovery activities from mid 70s to mid 80s. I became Regional Director in Albuquerque in 1982. I remember no striking introduction to Jack and his work. In '84 I joined him on a trip to Rancho Nuevo in Tamalipas, Mexico, the primary Kemps nesting beach. It was on that trip I began to appreciate the complexity and logistical challenges of operating in another country, regardless how friendly. I was fortunate to witness 100 turtles nesting in one day, a huge number when the population was at its lowest point. I was hooked by the spectacle of the turtle nesting, the tears in the eyes of the nesters, and catching and moving eggs to rebury them in the safe enclosure. I was also hooked by what Jack had done to arrange all this with little money and a lot of volunteers. I knew then he was special. Jack often said the biology was easy. He specialized in problem solving. How to get the species what they need. He was a creative, out of the box thinker, and best of all he was fearless. There was nothing he wouldn't try. Also it meant it he would not let our bureaucracy get in his way. It was good he operated 2000 miles from D.C. He was a founding member of the "better to seek forgiveness" club. To this day I'm not sure how he got permission and tickets to routinely fly to Mexico City to meet with top Mexican officials. After one trip he told me met with the President of Mexico. He was instrumental in getting Mexico to ban sea turtle harvests in 1990. Jack was the most imaginative, energetic, persistent problem solver I ever worked with. The Kemps annual nesting population was down to about 700 in the mid 80s. Now there are 10-20 thousand annual nesters. Considering it takes 10-12 years to reach sexual maturity, it has taken only a couple generations since Jack started the protection efforts. Any biologist would be ecstatic to know they personally saved a species. No one questions Jack saved the Kemps Ridley from extinction.

Let me put this in simple terms. During my 28 years with the Fish and Wildlife Service there is no colleague that I have more respect for than Jack Woody. Mike Spear.

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Daniels Family Funeral


4310 Sara Road SE

Rio Rancho, NM 87124

Published in Albuquerque Journal on May 1, 2016
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