Dear Fellow Woodworkers,
It is with profound sadness that I must inform you of the June 4 passing of Frank Woolley, a former president and very special friend of the WPW, and my immediate predecessor as club president. Frank’s service to the club was invaluable as he capably and smartly led us through our transition to an all-electronic club, continuing and then greatly expanding upon the work started by his predecessors. As a long-time member of the WPW and its program director at the time, I had many conversations with Frank where he sought my historical perspective on the club’s prior activities, while I marveled at his organizational skills, willingness to tackle change, and ability to recruit others to assist him in guiding the club in a new, and necessary, direction. We are a better club because of Frank’s leadership, and I can only hope that enough of him rubbed off on me to allow the WPW to continue to improve.
Frank’s life had many interesting turns, many of which I only became aware of after reading the beautiful obituary that can be found here: https://www.dalessandroltd.com/obituaries/Frank-Woolley/#!/Obituary; I encourage you to read it. His later-in-life enrollment at the North Bennett Street School, and the skills he acquired there, just added to his unique combination of knowledge and skill which he plied incredibly well as a fabulously accomplished woodworker, with a shop commensurate with his skills. I mention his shop only because as one of the WPW members who assisted his family in selling Frank’s tools when was no longer able to safely use them, I got a unique opportunity to “pull back the curtain” a bit and see what the wizard was up to. It was a telling experience for me, as I marveled at the way things were organized, labeled, and scientifically thought through (for instance, a drying rack with a thermometer and humidity gauge!). I gained insight into the Frank that I knew, always thinking, asking questions, and taking notes to record new things/ideas that might come in handy (you all remember Frank sitting in the front row at WPW meetings, jotting down notes, right?). Personally, watching him rang very true for me, as he reminded me of my late father, and reinforced for me the notion of lifelong learning. I’m fond of telling people that despite being a professional woodworker, I have never attended a club meeting where I didn’t walk away with at least some small kernel of new information, and often a “whole ear of corn!” Frank was the living embodiment of that to me, and I will miss him.
Due to precautions related to COVID-19, Frank’s family is unable to have a physical memorial service for him at this time, but they are going to put together some sort of virtual memorial service at a later date, probably in July. Frank’s wife, Sandy, has asked me to collect a list of names of WPW members who might wish to be notified of such a service, so if you’d like such notification please email me directly (Bill@JamesWoodWorks.com) and I will accumulate a list and provide it to the family. If you care to express condolences on your own, please feel free to email Sandy at Sandy.Woolley@gmail.com.