June 7, 1930 – November 15, 2019
Robert Woodley died November 15, 2019 at home as a result of multiple medical complications.
He served Indiana University as an administrator for 25 years, lastly at the IU Cyclotron Facility, retiring in 1994
Born at the height of the depression, June 7, 1930, to Harold and Margaret Gens Woodley, in Los Angeles, he was the second of two sons. Both of his parents were deaf as a result of childhood infectious diseases yet his father, in spite of this handicap and through night school and self-training, remained employed as an engineer throughout the depression era. Robert’s early years were happy ones, growing up in an ill defined area of Los Angeles, between what was called East Hollywood and what was called the Silver Lake district. Through the frugality of his parents the family was able to enjoy frequent outings to the beaches and mountains around Los Angeles as well as in the Sierra Mountains. The family loved the outdoors, exercise and physical activity.
World War II brought many changes for the family including Harold Woodley’s employment in 1942 as a mechanical engineer at Hughes Aircraft Company in Culver City. Sadly, he died from a coronary heart attack two years later in 1944 at the age of 46. It was a devastating blow but his wife, Margaret, was able to find employment in the garment industry by which she supported the family.
Upon completing high school in 1948, Robert enrolled at UCLA, graduating four years later with a degree in physics. As a commuter student, there was little opportunity for campus life and much of his time was spent on his studies, household obligations and recreation with friends from high school. Although he enjoyed science, physics and math were difficult and his academic record was average.
Following graduation in 1952, the Korean War was in progress and Robert was drafted into the US Army, receiving his basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Since the war was winding down Robert spent his two-year obligation serving with an army ordnance technical service unit at Edwards Air Force Base in California. His army service was not onerous and he enjoyed the camaraderie of military life.
Upon completion of his service he enrolled in graduate school at Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa, where he again studied physics, graduating with a master’s degree three years later in 1957.
His first job was at Memorial Hospital in New York City where he served as a physical scientist in the radiation therapy unit. The duties included calibrations, dose measurements and care of the radiation sources, including a Van de Graff generator, x-ray and radioactive sources.
In 1959 he married Inez Kathleen McGowan with whom he started a family of four children, three sons and a daughter. Also in 1959 he became employed at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, NY, where he served in the biology department as a physical science associate. The duties included calibrations and dose measurements of X- and gamma ray sources and reactor generated neutrons. He spent ten years at Brookhaven, living in a big creaky and friendly old Victorian house in a small community on the south shore in Suffolk County. The marriage ended in divorce in 1991. It was a good marriage in which they raised a good family but the relationship just died.
The 1960s were a busy and exciting period in which to live. Robert and his family became involved in the civil rights movement and the issues associated with it – open housing, equal opportunity, etc. – and Robert participated in the march on Washington in 1963. He briefly served on the local district school board and participated in the grass roots presidential campaign of Eugene McCarthy in 1968.
In 1969 Robert was offered the opportunity to come to Bloomington, Indiana, as an assistant to the newly appointed director of the Division of Biological Sciences at Indiana University. This was Prof. C.H.W. Hirs, who, at that time was a senior scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. It was one of those marvelous unplanned, unanticipated opportunities that comes along once in a lifetime and he accepted immediately. It was a life-changing move that he never regretted.
He remained at Indiana University for twenty-five years where he served in several administrative positions until retirement in 1994. These were marvelous years where it was a pleasure to serve Indiana University and work with a series of extremely gifted administrators. They included Professor Werner Hirs in the Division of Biological Sciences, vice-chancellor Harrison Shull and Dean Homer Neal in the Research Office, and Directors Dan Miller, Paul Singh, Vic Viola and John Cameron at the Indiana University Cyclotron Facility. These offices were focal points of research and academic development and to be a part of them was to be among the best that the university had to offer.
It was also a period when his children matured and of whom Robert was extremely proud. He enjoyed with them their school activities, cross country involvement, music (trumpet and voice), family interests and hobbies and regular vacations, usually of the tent camping variety. It was a joyful time faithfully captured in the family photo album.
Just before and shortly after retirement Robert suffered a series of health setbacks that required several rounds of major surgery. Nevertheless, he survived these events and was able to resume an active life that included travel and personal pursuits. Of particular interest was the pursuit of his family history and he spent many hours delving into official and archival sources in the tracing of his ancestral roots. It was a heritage quest that he found fascinating.
Robert had a second marriage in 1997 to Judy McCorkel at Beck Chapel in Bloomington. It was a blissful relationship where they enjoyed IU sports and cultural opportunities, vacation travel, and other retirement interests. Judy was a partner, a best friend, and a lover; truly, the best was saved for the last.
Survivors include his wife Judy, of Bloomington, sons Robert, of Chicago, Illinois, Harold, of Springfield, Virginia, Thomas, of Montreal, Canada, daughter Sarah Woodley-Freeman of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, step son Scott Moosey of Glenview, Illinois, step daughter Pamela Moosey of Indianapolis, Indiana.
It was Bob’s wish that there be no visitation, no service, no memorial, no flowers, no request for donations to charitable institutions nor any other observations or celebrations of his life. Felicitous memories that remain are as much as he would have wanted.
No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
December 10, 2019
My wife, Kirstine, and I very much miss Bob. I (George) and Bob joined the IU Biology Department around the same time, and we became "fast friends”. We interacted regularly, sharing stories about our recent and long-gone pasts. That friendship was not just "close", but intimate as well. Both Bob and I re-married around the same time, and thus a foursome of Bob, Judy, Kirstine, and George came into being, and continued right up to Bob's passing. Thus, an important part of our lives has been altered forever. But at least we have wonderful memories to review over and over again.
Rex and Barbara Hillery
November 24, 2019
We will miss spotting Bob in his seat at IU basketball games! He and Judy always enjoyed and suffered thru the game together. It represented how we pictured their relationship to be - supportive and happy to be together each day. This thought was confirmed by the loving last lines of his obit!
Judy, our hopes for you to enjoy your precious memories......
November 23, 2019
To Robert Woodley’s family:
I read in the newspaper of the death of your beloved father and husband, and wanted to send my thoughts to you. The obituary was a loving tribute to Bob’s life, and reading it brought back many memories. His was an interesting and productive life, and a long and influential one.
Our family first got to know the Woodley family through running – the junior track club in the summer and the Middle School track team activities. And we knew Bob was also a runner, who often ran with his four children – a great thing for all of them.
Later we knew Bob as a university administrator, mainly at the I.U. Cyclotron, where he was an invaluable team member. After retirement, we crossed paths from time to time, and each time, I was struck by his zest for life and his enthusiasm, despite daunting medical problems in later life. I know that this was possible because of the immense family support from his wife, Judy, and his four extraordinary children.
I feel sure that Bob Woodley’s long life will continue to be inspirational to his family and his friends, as he was an honorable example to all who knew him.
My family joins me in sending our condolences, and our good wishes.
Mary Alice Bent (Mrs. Robert Bent)
November 21, 2019
I was sad to read that Bob had passed away. Bob's son Tom was a star runner for South HighSchool and I first came to know him shortly after we moved to Bloomington through the BHS South cross country team. Thereafter, most of my interactions were via the IU Cyclotron Facility. He was a dependable, dedicated administrator, who helped guide this out-of-his-league Director at one stage. My sincere regrets to Judy and the rest of his family.