Community mourns loss of beloved teacher - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Community mourns loss of beloved teacher

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GERONIMO, OK (KSWO) - Monday, students and teachers across Comanche County mourned the loss of a beloved agriculture teacher who shaped the minds of area youth for nearly 30 years.

71-year-old Jay Woodward taught Ag at Lawton Public Schools for several years before retiring in the 90's, only to resume teaching at Geronimo High School around 2010 when they were struggling to find an Ag teacher. He worked there until 2014. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Woodward died Sunday night after an unknown medical condition caused him to fall off of a boat while he was fishing with his son at Lake Elmer Thomas.

Several students said Woodward was a kind man who genuinely cared about his students, even saying he was just like family with them.

"He was like a grandfather to me, after my grandfather passed away, that's just kind of the role he was,” Geronimo senior Carly Johnson said.

"I think he was just one of those guys that quietly encouraged me and gave me direction and showed me a path where I could actually find my livelihood, and that happened to be agriculture,” Former student of Woodward Don Armes said.

"He was very supportive, very willing to help. I never heard him yell at a single student,” Former colleague and Geronimo High School teacher Robert Kambic said.

 "A best friend, almost,” Geronimo senior Brooke Crow said. “Like I kept in contact with him a couple times a month ever since he left here so he's just always been there with me through it all."

Students nearly 30-years apart have the exact same story of Woodward finding them and giving them just the encouragement needed to take the next in their lives.

"He kind of eased up to me and said you might want to think about running for office in this FFA group,” Armes said. “I was a junior or senior and just thought well, OK. That was the first nudge I got from Jay Woodward and then many more through the years."

"One day he came up to me, it was my 8th-grade year and he said Brooke you should run for office,” Crow said. “I said no, I really don't want to do that. So he had me run. He just really pushed me into it, and branching out and trying new things."

During his time at Geronimo, students and faculty said Woodward really ramped up the Ag department and even started a skeet shooting team. But it's not what Woodward did that students and colleagues will remember about him, but who he was.

"He's going to be missed greatly, he's impacted so many lives, he's helped so many kids,” Johnson said.

"He was a great friend, great teacher, a great colleague. He will be very missed,” Kambic said.

"All the funny things we did with him, all the jokes and the way he talked to us, the way he would pick on us. He was such an ornery man, so loving, but so ornery,” Crow said. “It was sad but it was nice to remember all of the times we had with him today."

Everyone said how much of a shock this morning’s news was, but Armes said he doesn't think Woodward could have picked a better way to go than fishing with his son. 

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