Journalist Walt Woodward dies at age 91

"Walter C. Walt Woodward, Jr., age 91, award-winning journalist who with his late wife Mildred edited and published the Bainbridge Review during the years before and after World War II, died March 13 on Bainbridge Island.Two memorial services are set for March 24, at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church and at Woodward Middle School. Times for those services have not been set; information will appear in the Saturday Review.The Woodwards were the only editors on the West Coast to regularly editorialize in defense of Japanese-American citizens uprooted during World War II and interned in concentration camps by Presidential Executive Order 9066. The loss of Woodward was mourned by island community leaders Tuesday. There's a giant that we've lost, Mayor Dwight Sutton said, one of those guys with outstanding character, and a model for all of us. He set a pretty high standard.Frank Kitamoto, interned as a child and a longtime leader in the Bainbridge Japanese-American community, praised Woodward for his ongoing defense of the Bill of Rights when visiting area schools, and for his humility in the face of his own achievements. He always said, 'you're the people who went through this, not me -- I don't know why I'm getting all these accolades,' Kitamoto recalled Tuesday.Bainbridge native Paul Ohtaki, now of San Francisco, who worked for Woodward at the Review until he was interned in 1942 and who then served as a correspondent from the Manzanar camp, also praised the longtime Review editor. He did so much for us, we of Japanese ancestry, Ohtaki said. He defended our citizens' rights. When I asked him why, he said, 'You know, it's the right thing to do.' He helped us, and he really believed in defending the Constitution. He didn't have to do it. He could have dropped it.A career of distinctionWoodward was born in 1910 in Seattle, the son of Dr. and Mrs. Walter C. Woodward Sr. Walt was educated at Stevens Grade School, Broadway High School, class of 1928, and graduated from the University of Washington in 1933 in pre-med. He was an avid runner of cross-country and track for coach Hec Edmundson.Amid the unemployment of the Great Depression, Woodward volunteered as a cub reporter for the Seattle Times. It became a paying job.He leapt at a sports reporter's job with the Juneau Empire, where one day while doing a story at their high school, he was swept off his feet by a red-headed English teacher named Mildred Logg from Bainbridge Island.They married and settled on Bainbridge Island, where Walt commuted to a Seattle Times court reporter's beat while Milly taught school.In 1940, Walt and Milly purchased the Bainbridge Review and added to its banner, The Only Paper in the World that Cares about Bainbridge Island!When Her Majesty's Battleship Warspite, with British flesh and blood still unwashed upon its bombed and shattered decks, limped across two oceans from Crete to Puget Sound for repairs, unofficial Navy censorship soon collapsed after a common sense Bainbridge Review story, passed along to the Associated Press, told the nation what everyone here knew -- the United States was already in the war.The Review's solemn duty to our readers brought its first recognition for courageous journalism when Time Magazine praised the suburban weekly, brightly edited by young Seattlites.When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the Woodwards rushed a special edition to press. Its editorial included: If ever a community was devastated by events over which it had no control, it is Bainbridge Island this day ... and we dare not forget our neighbors of Japanese ancestry.When a few months later, 278 neighbors of Japanese ancestry -- more than 200 of whom were U. S. citizens -- became the first in the nation to be uprooted by Executive Order 9066, the Review was the only newspaper on the coast to repeatedly remind its readers that the Bill of Rights had been violated for some of its neighbors.Though the Woodwards' stand was not popular, they didn't budge.Editorials were not enough. Walt and Milly encouraged Paul Ohtaki, Sa Nakata, Tony Koura and Sada Omoto to be camp correspondents.They regularly reported births, deaths, marriages, baseball scores, Miss Minidoka beauty pageant winners, and volunteers into the US Army.This, too, did not happen elsewhere. And when the war was over, the way was paved home.In post-war years, Walt led campaigns to build Living Memorial Field, a new library, schools, the Agate Passage Bridge to the Kitsap mainland; to establish planning, zoning and consolidated phone and mail service; and to prevent a cross-sound bridge.Woodward was a founding member and lay reader of Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church. He was an active member of Kiwanis Club and the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce.After a stint working for the Republican Party in Washington, DC, and an unsuccessful run for a seat in Congress, he returned to the Review, and a presidency of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.After selling the Review in 1961, Woodward again worked for the Seattle Times editorial board and wrote a popular column on boating -- a lifetime love.He wrote Big Toot (named for his family's cruisers) and Cruising to Alaska -- Without Rocking The Boat Too Much -- a treatise on family life in the Inside Passage. He was a Commodore of Poulsbo YC and taught boating safety for the US Power Squadron.Woodward was instrumental in the campaign to establish the North Cascades National Park. He worked to elect Gov. Dan Evans, served a stint as chair of the State Pollution Control Hearings Board, and the one time Justice of the Peace was appointed first hearing examiner for the state Shorelines Hearing Board in the 1970s.He was also Winslow's first land use hearing examiner. He wrote Review columns into the 1990s and volunteered regularly at the island's social service agency, Helpline House.Woodward was one of only 100 citizens inducted into Washington State's Centennial Hall of Honor for humanitarian and civil libertarian contributions to the state's quality of life. He was recipient of the National Japanese American Citizen League's Edison Uno Civil Rights Dove of Peace Award, Washington Newspaper Publishers Association's Freedom's Light Award, and many other recognitions.Woodward Middle School was named for him and his wife. Their story was told in the PBS documentary, Visible Target.Walt was also the inspiration for the character Arthur Chambers, the newspaper editor, in David Guterson's Snow Falling On Cedars. Walt Woodward was preceded in death by his wife, Milly, in 1989, and his brother, Robert Woodward, and infant sister, Mary Jean.He is survived by three daughters, Mary and Mildred (Mij) of Bainbridge Island, and Carolyn of Albuquerque, N.M.; grandchildren Laurie, Daniel and Jeffrey Burdick; John, David, Jaime and Joseph Weindl; and Brodie and Riley Woodward-Pratt of Bainbridge Island; one great-grandson, Adam Weindl; and numerous nieces and nephews.Remembrances can be made to: the Woodward Foundation c/o Tats Moritani, 542 Winslow Way W., Bainbridge Island WA 98110; or Helpline House, 282 Knechtel Way. "

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