Leonard C. Wood 1942 – 2017

Leonard C. Wood
      1942 – 2017

“Woody” died September 17, of cancer. He lived at his Empire Creek mine in a home he’d pretty well built himself.
He is probably most well known locally for his time as proprietor of the 49er Stage, running errands and hauling supplies for local businesses.
He is remembered for his enthusiasm and cheer. No matter how busy, Woody always had a pleasant word if only in passing.
“He was always enthusiastic and happy,” notes old friend Ross Harnhart, speaking for nearly everyone who’d met Woody. “It was always a treat to see him.”
Born in Portland, Woody served in the Navy on a minesweeper during the Vietnam war. He was later a firefighter in Portland before forming his own fire and safety equipment company in that city.
He moved to South Lake Tahoe in 1980, working as a shuttle bus and limo driver. There he met his future wife, Billie. The couple, married in 1999, moved to the Downieville area and bought acreage where Woody could mine gold.
He is survived by his sons Greg, David, and Ken of Portland, brother Steven of Bend, Oregon, stepdaughters Anna Watkins of Denver, and Lisa Backes of South Lake, CA and his wife Billie.
Says his granddaughter, Ashley: Woody was the man of all men; the John Wayne of Downieville since the 70s. He was a gold miner, served in the Vietnam War, a limo driver in Tahoe, a jack of all trades, an off-the-grid property owner, built his home from scratch in the Sierra Nevadas, made weekly trips to Reno filling up his van, shopping for local residents who were unable to transport themselves out of a small town in the mountains, and so much more. But most importantly, he was the love of my grandmother’s life. A WONDERFUL husband, grandfather, and step-father.
Cancer won on Sunday. Too soon. When we saw him last Christmas, he was perfectly fine; healthy. When we saw him in July, he was struggling but still good enough to laugh and eat candy. He was given a year at that point. Then two months. And now he’s gone.
I sent homemade banana bread and candy on Saturday because he loved them. It’s probably still in the mail. I kick myself for not sending that sooner.
RIP, Woody. We all loved you SO much. Thank you for taking care of my grandmother and making her so happy for so many years. You were her best friend and the light of her life.”
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to Reno VA in Woody’s name. A public celebration of Woody’s life will be held in the Spring 2018.

4 thoughts on “Leonard C. Wood 1942 – 2017

  1. In my experience Woody could be as friendly as he was fierce. I had great respect for his passion and commitment to his principles. I will probably remember most his looks of focus, of deep thought, and though that face conveyed a seriousness about him, it didn’t diminish a gentle kindness that laid just beneath the surface.

    I am sorry for your loss.

  2. Liz the date for Woody’s Memorial/or Celebration of Life was not in the article about Woody. Am sure other people besides us would like to have that information. Thanks

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