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Family sought to honor Davis with special funeral

by: FILE PHOTO - Woody Davis was known as a man who got things done. The community jack-of-all-trades died on Sunday at age 69.Sherwood “Woody” Davis, a lifelong Corbett resident and businessman whose battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease inspired his family to start planning a special funeral service, died Sunday night, Aug. 5. He was 69.

Woody had been in hospice care for about two weeks and was surrounded by family when he died, said his brother-in-law Tony Jacobs.

The family is planning and confirming arrangements for Woody’s funeral, Jacobs said.

Woody’s diagnosis with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), in April 2011 and his calm acceptance of it led his family to set about planning a memorable funeral service that would best honor him for the role he played in their lives and in his community.

They always remembered to ask Woody for his approval of their ideas, and he typically gave it.

In his home shop, Tony Jacobs built a scarlet pine coffin, carefully measuring Woody’s slender frame so he would fit into it. Jacobs then took the coffin around the community and let people sign it.

Family and friends also restored Woody’s white 1967 International Harvester diesel-engine pickup, a rare model that Woody had used for his Davis Excavation business. The family had plans to use it as a hearse that would transport Woody’s coffin during the service.

The family took Woody on several trips, including to Timberline Lodge and the Hays Antique Truck Museum in northern California.

The community also stepped up to assist. After learning that Woody was having trouble getting his winter wood supply cut and stacked, about 70 people, including family members and friends, visited Woody’s house on a Saturday last November to help out.

They prepared so many cords of wood that Woody donated the excess supply to a family in need.

Woody’s favorite equipment brand was International Harvester. He told The Outlook he’d always admired the people in the community who used them. His family joked that he should have been the company’s poster boy.

A jack-of-all-trades, Woody earned a reputation over several decades as the man to call when you needed a job done fast and done right.

“Better call Woody!” was what many said.

On his own and with Davis Excavation, his family business, Woody put in countless hours doing anything that required a tractor, Caterpillar or bulldozer. He graded driveways, cleared land, prepared sites for construction and more. He served in the National Guard and worked as a baker for 10 years, but never left tractor work. He was known for his open-handed wave as he drove by.

In the last year of his life, Woody also gained some national attention. After his story appeared in The Outlook, Woody was featured in Reader’s Digest and on the CBS Evening News for an “On the Road” segment in late January.

CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman, who spent a day in Corbett with Woody and his family and friends, described Woody as a “community angel” in his story because of the thousands of good deeds he had done for the community.

Woody recently served as the grand marshal for Corbett’s Fourth of July parade.

Phil DuFresne, former owner of Big Bear’s Country Market and a member of a Bible study group with Woody, said he visited Woody on Saturday. Together they listened to old-time gospel music, read psalms and prayed together, DuFresne said, adding that Woody was a sincere, loving and “down-to-earth country boy” and a remarkable man.

Woody could not speak because of his illness, so he communicated with an eraser board, DuFresne said.

“I could see in his heart and in his eyes that he was ready to go home,” DuFresne said. “At the most precious time, God took him, but he was healed and made whole.”

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