Wilfred R. Woods, a globe-trotting reporter who inherited the Wenatchee (Wash.) World in 1950 and served as its editor and publisher for the next 47 years, died Feb. 11 at age 97.
Woods, a longtime active Inland Press Association member, was best known in recent years for his column, “Talking It Over,” that ran on the front page for decades. He delivered his final column last Dec. 12, 2016, according to an obituary in the World by staff writer Mike Irwin.
He was born in Wenatchee in 1919 to a longtime newspaper family then headed by his father Rufus Woods. Wilfred Woods, who preferred the nickname “Wilf,” began at the newspaper as a child with the task of swatting flies in the production room. As a teenager he became an apprentice typesetter and printer.
Woods joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II, and finished school at the University of Washington after serving three years at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
In 1947, he returned to Wenatchee to work as a World reporter, and soon was dispatched overseas as a foreign correspondent. He covered the Berlin Airlift in1948-49) and in later years reported first hand on the protests at Tiananmen Square and events in the Middle East.
When his father died in 1950, Wilf Woods returned to Wenatchee, and served as the World’s editor and publisher for the next 47 years. “Luckily, I also inherited a really good crew who could basically operate the paper until I learned the ropes,” the World obituary quoted him as saying.
During his tenure, Woods led the conversion to offset printing, color, and digital typesetting. He created an employee profit-sharing trust for a staff that more than doubled under his watch.
In 1997, he retired as publisher to serve as chairman of the board and his son Rufus became the publisher.
In addition to Rufus Woods, Wilf Woods is survived by his wife of 65 years, Kathy, and two daughters, Kara and Gretchen.