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Jean Woodland - Biography by his daughter, Adrienne Woodland Buckley



A Biography of Jean William Woodland

Compiled and written by Adrienne Woodland Buckley

Jean William Woodland was the second son of Lydia Adamson and William Thomas Woodland. He was born Jan. 21, 1911 at Richmond, Utah. The attending physician was Dr. H. A. Adamson, a relative on his mother's side of the family. His older brother Phil would write that they were born of goodly parents.

Jean favored his mother’s Swedish side of the family. He was blessed with red hair and a fair complexion. His younger sister Shelah was definitely Scandinavian also. Phil was darker and probably looked more like the English Woodland clan.

Jean’s early years were spent in the usual youthful pursuits of a small town boy. The homes he lived in were always close to his Grandma Woodland’s land in the center of town. There was always plenty of activity with the Woodland Aunts, Uncles, and cousins around. The family get-togethers were frequent and included big rowdy celebrations.

As a man, Jean reminisced about the Christmas’ he had as a boy. He remembered peeking through the door trying to get a preview of what was to come – come morning, if it ever would. One year, he got a Flexible Flyer sled and the boxing gloves for both he and Phil.

Richmond was in many ways a quiet peaceful town, although not so safe as one might think. There were always youthful pranks, fistfights, and other assorted childhood risks. Black eyes were a dime a dozen, as most boy arguments were settled by fistfights. Jean used to tell of many Halloween nights where outhouses were tipped over. There was also that time when Phil broke the lock on the town jail and freed its only two inmates.

Jean remembered the many times on the Fourth of July that he and Phil used to get up early in the morning and go around with Rex and Charlie and their dad shooting off the cannon. The cannon was a powder charge placed in the hole of an anvil with another on top of it. It sure made a lot of racket. They pulled it around in a little wagon. They always had one of those big freezers of ice cream during the day. “Those were the days”, he used to say.

The extended Woodland family had their share of broken legs, arms and bruises caused by falls in barns, off horses, trees, haystacks and fences. Jean was one of the wounded when he fell from a derrick and dislocated his elbow and had to have it in a cast. Sleighing accidents in the winter were common also.

Jean's dad, Bill, flooded the pasture in the winters. The children skated and played hockey. Of course, baseball was the big game in summer. Bill was an avid baseball player and so his boys naturally took up the sport. As small children, they also spent a fair amount of time playing war games. They hated Indians, Mexicans (particularly Poncho Villa), and then Germans. War was really romantic for the Woodland children and Phil and Jean hated our country's enemies. In the summer, the Woodland boys roamed the countryside around Richmond. It was not unheard of for them to go off for a few days of camping and fishing alone.

There were two large apple trees in the front yard. One of Jean's favorite memories was sitting under the apple trees listening to his mother singing in the kitchen while she baked and prepared meals. They used to place a flag in the window when the noonday and evening meals were ready to alert their father to come home from his shop. Jean recalled running to meet him as he walked across the road and through the pasture to the house.

Once, when his mother had gone to a church conference, a summer storm had ensued. The thunder and lightening were intense and continued into the evening. Jean was pretty young and he sat huddled alone under the apple trees waiting for his mother's return. His terror that she would not return and his joy when she finally did would be remembered for always.

Jean was just a year old when his father fell and broke his back. Bill never quite healed from that first fall. In subsequent years, he would have problems again and then need to recuperate. During those times, it fell to the two boys to milk the cows so that the milk could be sold to the local Sego Milk factory for canning. Both Jean and Phil gathered eggs to sell and thinned beets for an extra dollar a day.

In 1923, when Jean was twelve and in the fifth grade the family moved to Salt Lake City and he left all his "kidsperiences" in Richmond behind. Work was scarce for Bill and he and Lydia felt that things would get better for them financially with the move where Bill could get year round employment. Bill found steady work and Lydia worked intermittently as a maid on South Temple, a seamstress in an overall factory and in the kitchen at the Hotel Utah while Philip, Jean, and Shelah attended school. Within a short time, the family was able to buy a house on Almond St. It was after they moved that Jean was given a weekly allowance so he would know how to manage money.

In Salt Lake he finished the fifth grade at Oquirk School, completed the sixth grade at Lafayette Elementary, and his Junior High (7th, 8th and 9th grades) at West Junior High (later Horace Mann Jr. High). Jean had pneumonia during the winter of ninth grade and missed three weeks of school. Shortly after returning his French teacher came down the aisle and gave his hair a disciplinary jerk. Her face turned purplish when her hand came up with a bunch of red hair. The hair roots had been weakened by the high fever during his pneumonia and that contributed to the temporary loss of his hair.

Jean’s father was a natural athlete and transferred his interest in sports to his two sons. In addition to participating in regular sports activities, they were avid skiers and hikers. They loved to strap on their old wood ski’s and head to the beautiful slopes at Alta. Jean recalled many times hiking to the top of Lone Peak and looking down at the Salt Lake Valley. Those hikes to the top were triumphs he would frequently remember. They all were better than average poker players.

In the fall of 1926 he entered L.D.S. College (the equivalent of today’s High School) and graduated in the spring of 1929. He proved to be an adequate student. Jean played tackle on the football team but his inability to stop a rival school's half back disappointed his coach. After leaving the team, Jean had to be satisfied with “M Men" church ball.

During his last year of High School and the following year Jean took a job with a paint gang for the Railroad at the North Yards, to enable him to earn enough money to go to the University of Utah Business School. He completed a little over one year and earned 50 hours of credits that included 1.3 hours of sports activities as part of his curriculum.

Then the Great Depression came, taking its toll, including Jean's part time job on the paint gang. His formal schooling also came to an end. Any further education he gained during his life was by correspondence courses, self-study, and job experience. He would write to his mother, “No regrets should be yours that you were not able to give Phil and me college. If we had wanted it bad enough we could have gotten it. In my own work I feel that I am better qualified than many college men, and unless one continues to progress by studying and learning he will eventually find himself in reverse. There is no standing still. And that is something one does not get in college. The ability to stand on ones own, and to learn without being forced, and to take advantage of opportunities when they do come is important. I know that I have made many mistakes. That the philosophy of a boy, and then that of a man does not run in complete accord with that of a mother is unfortunate. But that is life.”

Jean recalled those first Depression years as really tough for the family. He worked odd jobs, mostly bringing home very little pay. Jean was a dutiful son and gave his earnings to his parents to help the family survive the bad times.

Jean’s life-long career in accounting started at the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company in September 1931 at the age of twenty. A friend asked if he would temporarily fill in for the mail clerk who was ill. After several weeks on the job he became a permanent employee. The regular mail clerk died. The starting salary was $55.00 a month. It wasn't long before he worked his way up to the accounting department.

In early 1931, Jean was part of a basketball team called “the Capitolians”. He played the position of guard. They were considered a “pick-up team as they entered the Intermountain A.A.U. title race. Jean’s team brought the only championship to Salt Lake by winning their division of the annual tournament. Four of the boys were still students at the University of Utah.

Jean was quite a handsome chap and had plenty of opportunities for dates. Phil’s wife Dorothy told a story of how she first dated Jean before she dated Phil. Phil was too shy to express his interest and when Jean found out that Phil was interested in her, he stepped aside. Dorothy must have been about 14 years old and Jean was probably about the same. Jean had a slightly different side of the story and recalled only one “date”. He apparently was not in any hurry to get serious with anyone at that age. Between fourteen and twenty-five, he must have had several girl friends but in later life he never mentioned any by name.

During the last of the roaring twenties, prohibition brought it’s share of excitement to Salt Lake and the Woodland boys. Phil would tell of making Bathtub Gin in his mother’s home and of police raids on the local Speakeasies that sprang up along 2nd South and the Avenues. Jean led quite an active social life. He participated in drama, danced to the Big Bands that came to Salt Lake and SaltAir, and could be seen often at the Coon Chicken Inn.

Jean would meet his future wife, LaNore Woolf, through a friend, Harding Brewerton, in the mid 1930’s. The first entry in LaNore’s diary about Jean was on May 30, 1936 about an introduction at the Castle Rendezou. They were both 25 years old. It wasn’t until July 24th that Jean actually asked LaNore for a date. They went with Harding to Black Rock beach on the Great Salt Lake and then to the Beehive for steaks. Things started to heat up by mid August and by the end of the year, they were beginning to be a “couple”.

They had an on and off courtship for four years. In 1940, when Jean was promoted to assistant auditor at the Sugar Company, they decided to marry. LaNore convinced Jean that two could starve as easily as one on what he was making. At that time one could barely carry from a grocery store what five dollars would buy. They were married at the home of LaNore’s parents on Dec 11,1940. The announcement in the Tribune stated, “Wedded in a simple home ceremony Wednesday morning were Miss LaNore Woolf and Jean William Woodland. Just the family was present and directly after the ceremony the couple left for a two-week trip to Denver, CO. They will reside in Salt Lake City.” After the honeymoon, the not so young couple was ensconced in their first apartment. They later moved to the Los Gables apartments at 125 So 3rd East where they shared more than groceries. They both had a love of books, music, and fun.

Jean received his “Greetings” from President Roosevelt and was inducted at Fort Douglas to serve in WWII on June 8, 1942. He was assigned to the 308th as a radio operator and spent three months at Camp Crowder, Missouri, a Signal Corps basic training center. Morning whistle was at 5:45 so he was up at 5:30 to get ready for his day. He received “good” ratings on his tests for sending and receiving. He was proud that he was learning quickly. When he took his final test in procedure, he got a 90%, which he was told was the highest mark made in several classes.

Jean was then shipped to Drew Field (about six miles from Tampa Florida) to refine his new skills. LaNore joined him in November for the last three months in Florida. After staying at a couple of motels, they rented a one-room dump in Tampa. Jean could travel home at night after his work was complete at the base. He had gone on a twenty-mile hike for his birthday on Jan 21st but the couple went out to dinner after he returned home. There was another hike planned as an overnight the following Thursday and Friday. Jean was worried he would not be there to see LaNore off to the train.

On Jan 28, 1943, LaNore returned to Salt Lake and their Los Gables apartment where she maintained her residence until her husband returned from the war - 2 1/2 years later. He would write his mother, “She left tonight at 8:10. Some friends we have made took us to the train. It has meant so much to both of us to be together for nearly 3 months. Perhaps it will not be so long now until I am home with you all again. Things are beginning to look better, aren’t they? I am glad LaNore got away before I left. I think it is best that way.”

As a Private in the US Army, he was paid about $50 a month. His mother was paid $28 a month as his dependent. When he was promoted to Sgt, his pay increased to $78 a month. Jean would soon start to augment his income gambling. His game was stud poker and he was better than average at it.

On Feb. 14, 1943 Radio Operator T4 Woodland #39027044, along with 15,000 army officers and men, 1500 sailors and 500 nurses sailed into the unknown from the Port of Embarkation in San Francisco on the troop ship WestPoint, formerly the SS America. He arrived in Egypt on the 29th of March 1943 and sent pictures home of himself standing in front of the Pyramids. After serving in various locations in Egypt, North Africa, Corsica, and Italy for over 2 ½ years, T4 Woodland sailed for home on June 4, 1945 aboard a liberty ship which had formerly carried mules for the troops in Italy. Landing at Newport News, Virginia on June 20, 1945 he proceeded to Salt Lake and was discharged at Fort Douglas July 9, 1945. He left the service as a Technician Fourth Grade. He had been in the army and away from his wife and family for three years and 1 month and 2 days when he was released. As he was discharged from 935th Signal Battalion, he received the Good Conduct Medal and the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal for his troubles.

Jean was a prolific writer during the war years. His mother kept all his letters to her as a faithful account of his thoughts and travels. His devotion, love, and gratitude to his wife and family were recounted time and again over the long separation. He was also quite an amateur writer of poetry and limericks. Years later, Jean would remember his wartime experiences as the highlights of his life. He kept up a running correspondence with many of his wartime buddies through the years and attended several Army reunions held all over the country, the last in 1986.

While Jean was overseas, LaNore worked as a desk clerk at Hotel Utah and took in roommates to help with expenses. After the couple was reunited, they remained at the Los Gables location until several months after their first child, Adrienne Jean, was born in 1946. The family then moved to a small apartment in Jean’s mother's and dad’s house at 210 North State Street.

In April 1948 they bought a house at 263 West 1st North. The couple’s second child, Marilyn Shelah, had been born on August 5, 1948. Like Jean, she resembled the Scandinavian side of the family. Now that they had two daughters and their own home, Jean and LaNore set about living the life they had envisioned and waited so long for, modeled after the American Dream of the 1950's. Jean and LaNore were enthusiastic about art, cultural activities, and music. They led an active social life with family and friends. Many evenings were spent in lively discussion between themselves and friends listening to their growing library of "Hi-Fi" records and albums. They both were avid readers and had an extensive library of classical and modern novels. Many Saturday evenings were spent as date nights at home: cooking a special meal for the two of them, getting the children fed and into bed, and enjoying each other’s company as they discussed literature, politics, and music.

The house on 1st North had been remodeled from what had once been an old adobe Relief Society Meeting House. Jean had learned much from his father and was a good apprentice carpenter. He used his carpenter skills to make many changes to the appearance of the house during the 15 years he lived there. He was able to remodel the home they lived in and added a carport and entry to the house after a fire destroyed the garage and burned the west side of it in the early 1950’s. He built the girls a brick playhouse in the back yard and made many Christmas gifts of dollhouses, cradles, easels and blackboards. He and LaNore refinished their living-room furniture and Jean crafted a coffee table from their old dining room table. It became the heart of the family gatherings in the years that followed.

Jean, along with his brother and sister had always placed their father and mother in high regard. When their father was so ill after his last operation, the boys took turns going to their parent’s home to care for him each night. Jean spent many hours lifting him from bed to chair, assisting their mother in bathing and caring for him. The daily visits brought both parent’s support and comfort. It was in 1950 that Jean's father died of cancer.

At U & I Sugar, Jean was promoted to general auditor in 1955. He became a member of the National Association of Accountants. He continued to work his way up the ladder at the Sugar Company. As a company auditor, he traveled to the nine sugar factories frequently. Each year his family was able to travel with him during the summer, taking road trips to many of the western states where the company had holdings. As Jean drove the many miles each day, LaNore would remind the girls seated in the back seat, “don’t distract the driver”.

Each year, Jean, LaNore, and the girls would also take family trips to places like Yellowstone, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Robinson’s Bar Ranch near Stanley Idaho, and Disneyland, California. It was important to both parents to share family experiences, places, and cultures.

Jean had always admired his mother's cooking and had taken the time to mentor with her. He had learned well at his mother’s side and became the family chef. Jean used to joke that LaNore learned all her cooking ability from him. He admitted that LaNore, too, was a good cook – but only after he taught her how. She cooked the "everyday" meals. He cooked for special occasions, holidays, and Sunday dinners. He loved to make ice cream. It was a tradition in his childhood that would be part of his own family life. His favorite was pineapple sherbet. He would fill a two-quart hand-cranked freezer with his special recipe. On weekends when he didn’t make ice cream, the family would ride over to Russell’s ice-cream store to get a cone and a quart before coming home to watch their favorite Sunday shows on TV.

In the summer of 1955, Lydia returned from a trip to Sweden and it was evident that she was ill. She was diagnosed with stomach cancer. She underwent two serious operations to remove it. After the first operation, Jean and LaNore insisted she come to their home to recover. They gave up their bedroom to Lydia and tried to make her comfortable. It was a strain for Jean to watch his beloved mother whither away to nothing and be in such pain. Lydia died in Feb 1956 after being hospitalized and operated on for the second time.

His girls were but twelve and ten years old when their mother died of breast cancer on October 2, 1958. Jean lost his beloved LaNore, his soul mate and life's companion, just two years after the death of his mother. LaNore had discovered she had breast cancer. She refused to go in for traditional treatment. She was terrified after watching Jean’s mother suffer so. Jean respected her wishes to seek unconventional treatments through natural remedies. He tried to be breadwinner, husband and father, nurse and caregiver for the better part of a year. When she died, he was devastated by his loss. He often struggled as he finished raising the girls alone and was the first to admit the he never had quite recovered from her death. His sadness over lost dreams with LaNore was the condition he allowed himself to remain in throughout the next 31 years until his own death. He loved her as he had never loved anyone else.

Before her illness, Jean and LaNore had made plans to move from their home in the heart of Salt Lake to a quieter community. They had originally selected “Val Verda” in Davis County because Jean had picked peaches and other fruit there with his father many times as a youth and young man. After learning of LaNore’s illness, they put those plans on hold. In 1963, five years after LaNore’s death, Jean moved his family to Bountiful, UT. His girls were teenagers and gave their father more than the usual problems of the “generation gap”. It was troubled times for his family. Both of his girl's were married by 1965 leaving Jean alone.

In March of 1964, Jean was again promoted at the Sugar Company. This time to a new post, that of Company Controller. He had the responsibility for preparation, analysis and reporting of financial accounting and supervision of accounting procedures and auditing. His final promotion came in October of 1970. He was appointed Manager of taxes and budgets for the corporation. Jean worked continuously for the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company until he retired Jan. 31, 1976. He had worked for them for 45 years. His only break in service was during the war years. Sugar had been a part of his life for almost all of his life, starting with the thinning of sugar beets on the farm as a boy through all the good and bad years he had as a man.

In 1970, Jean was hospitalized for a month with an unknown and undiagnosed ailment (at least undiagnosed to his family). Much of his intestines were perforated and he bled internally. He had always suffered with bouts of gout and after receiving 29 transfusions of blood; he had a reaction of gout so critical that his entire body swelled and his kidneys were severely affected for a time. When they finally released him, the doctors had removed many times ten feet of large intestine. Jean was humbled enough from the experience that he gave up his remaining sinful pleasures – namely smoking and drinking. By that time, he was using a full set of false teeth and had had cataracts removed from both eyes. Age was creeping up on him.

In 1971, after a divorce, Adrienne returned with her two children, Jeff and Stephanie, to live with Jean in Bountiful. Jean was a devoted Grandfather. It was a role that suited him. He became their main source of support and the primary male figure in his grandchildren's life. In 1976, after he retired, he was home to greet his grandchildren returning from school and always fixed the evening meals. His grandchildren remember Jean sleeping in the backyard on starry summer evenings pointing to different constellations and telling them stories. He took Jeff fishing and duck hunting. He taught him how to water the lawn to get earthworms for bait. When Jeff wanted to enter the pigeons he raised into the State Fair, it was Jean who drove him there and picked him up again. Marilyn had given Jean three more grandchildren: Lisa, Ted, and Lynette. Jean loved them as much as the two he lived with. He would cook his Sunday dinners for Marilyn’s family and it became their tradition for many years.

In 1979, Adrienne remarried and left Jean alone in his home once more. Jean would travel out to her home to join the family each Christmas Eve, sleeping over so he could participate in the morning Christmas festivities. It was the kid’s turn to remember waiting and peeking through the door trying to get a preview of Grandpa coming up the stairs so they could open their gifts. They always moaned waiting for him to “put his eyes and teeth in”, wondering aloud if he would get the job done before the day was completely over. It was the same ritual they had practiced while they lived with him. They were good memories for everyone.

Jean remained in Bountiful until 1987 when his failing health forced him to move in with Adrienne and her family. He would spend his last two years with her and her family in West Valley City. It was a difficult decision for him to give up his independence, driving a car, and give up on what little remained of his unfulfilled dreams. He spent his time reading, listening to music, watching lots of sports programs on TV, and sometimes grumbling about the things he no longer controlled. He had a few rituals left – one of them popping his bag of pop-corn in the microwave before heading back to his room downstairs for the day.

Jean was an active member of his church for the first 45 years of his life. William A. Noble baptized Jean into the L.D.S. Church in the Logan Temple on Feb. 25, 1919. Harden Bennion at the 17th Ward in Salt Lake City ordained Jean an Elder on Oct. 26, 1930. His church work consisted of Mutual and Sunday School activities through the years prior to LaNore's death. During the 1950’s he was made Ward Clerk for the North 17th Ward – the Ward he had grown up in. After LaNore’s death, Jean seemed unable to reconcile his differences with his Lord for taking her so early and rarely, if ever, went to church. Prior to his death he speculated on whether there was a God and eternal life. He was skeptical.

Jean had dated a few times after LaNore died but the relationships never blossomed into anything serious. He had a long-time acquaintance and social companion through the years. Circumstances and the heavens never aligned themselves favorably for the couple. Whether LaNore was the major obstacle or not, Madora Savage and Jean were apparently satisfied with keeping their close friendship just that. The friendship lasted until his death.

He was known by many to have a wonderful sense of humor. Like his father and brother, his humor could be gentle and self-deprecating. At other times, his joking comments were quick and very funny. In later years his humor turned cynical and at times, he was given to biting wit and could be mean with his comments to others. That trait would come to tarnish the image of this simple, modest, and unpretentious man.

In many ways, he was a contradiction of terms. He was steadfastly loyal and honest, generous and caring. Like his mother, he found it hard to express his feelings of love and affection but they were deep and abiding. As with both his parents, he was always there to help his own family, his wife’s family, and other’s without fanfare. He didn’t ask for recognition for his generosity and was modest when it was noticed.

Jean William Woodland died on Sep 11, 1989 at home. He had lost the use of his kidneys and contracted blood poisoning through dialysis. He, perhaps, had also lost the desire to live any longer. He talked many times of his wishes for traveling again in his later life, most of which were not to be fulfilled. His last two days were spent listening to classical music and visiting with his brother, his friends, and loved ones. He seemed at peace with himself and was ready to meet LaNore again, if she was waiting. He didn’t want a formal funeral – just a simple graveside service. When once asked if he had ever thought about cremation, he got very quiet for a moment and then answered in a soft voice, “I have always been a little afraid of fire.” Jean was buried on Sep __ in the Larkin Cemetery, within site of his childhood climbing mountain – Lone Peak.


Linked toBiography of Jean Woodland; Jean William WOODLAND

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