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America’s Oldest Scouter: Woody Woodward, W7KOP (SK)

01/04/2011

Leonard Andrew “Woody” Woodward, W7KOP, of Mapleton, Utah, passed away December 25, 2010. He was 99. Woodward -- who, according to the Boy Scouts of America, was the “longest continuously registered Scouter” -- was involved with scouting for more than 87 years. BSA’s Utah National Parks Council Program Director John Gailey called Woodward “an amazing man” and told the ARRL that his friend was still “very much active on the air weeks before his death.”

At the age of 8 in 1918, Woodward built his own radio. At the time of his death, he was using the Internet to connect Amateur Radio operators around the world. Woodward was known all over the world as an unofficial ambassador of America and Scouting through his radio contacts.

“When he was a boy, radio was so new that the only way to get on the air was to seek out old parts from Model T Ford spark coils and batteries to build a station,” friend Rod Mansfield told The Daily Herald. “Everything was scrounged, modified or completely handmade. Woody’s big break came when a mechanic at the local Ford Motors dealership knew that Woody had been in looking for scrap parts from Ford spark coils. And one day he handed Woody a spare, fully operational spark coil assembly. Using mostly surplus military parts, he built several impressive radio stations in his quest to push the frontiers of discovery.”

According to Mansfield, Woodward, along with Ralph Fulsom, helped bring the Cub Scout program to the US while both were still Boy Scouts. “Noticing that a group of younger boys came to watch their Scout troop activities, Woody and Ralph organized a Cub Pack using information they requested from England in 1928, prior to Cubs being adopted in the US. Badges were homemade, and the Council Executive of the Tulsa [Oklahoma] County Council visited their meetings on occasion and subsequently recommended the program be considered by the National Boy Scouts of America who implemented Cub Scouts in America in 1930.” Today, more than 1.6 million boys in first through fifth grade participate in more than 49,000 Cub Scout packs in the US.

Tom Powell, retired Scout Executive of the Utah National Parks Council, said Woodward was a “longtime, dedicated, wonderful supporter of Scouting because he realized the good it provided for the youth of our nation. He was active in many roles over many, many years and did a huge amount of good in serving youth. He was and is loved by all those who know him, and we all appreciated his efforts, his forever smiling face and expertise he lent for boys. He was always a prime example of the Scout oath and Scout law and certainly will be missed in the fellowship of Scouting circles.”  -- Thanks to the BSA’s Utah National Parks Council and The Daily Herald for the information



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