Hugh J. Woods, M.D.

December 22, 1926May 15, 2013

Hugh Jean Woods, age 86 of Kansas City, MO, died of natural causes on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 while a resident of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care. Hugh was born December 22, 1926 in Tyro, KS, the third son of Samuel Branchford Woods and Hattie Crawford Woods.

Education was deeply valued by his parents and was reflected in Hugh’s own educational path. He graduated from Caney High School in Caney, KS and soon after, enlisted in the United States Army in June of 1944, eager to contribute to the War effort. The Army tapped Hugh to participate in an experimental program that ultimately led him to become an interpreter for the assumed post-surrender U.S. occupation of Japan. He was sent to Yale University in New Haven, CT in September 1944 to learn to speak Japanese as a student in the Asian Studies School. While the main focus was on conversational Japanese, he was also schooled in Japanese culture, geography, and the written language. In March of 1945, the Army sent Hugh to Camp Maxie, TX for basic training that was completed in June. He was then sent to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis for six more months of Japanese immersion language training. In February 1946, he boarded a train packed with GIs headed for the Northwest coast of the U.S where he embarked by military transport ship for Japan. Stationed in Otsu, Japan, his job as an Intelligence Observer was to search out hidden arms and armaments by interviewing Japanese citizens. Hugh returned from Japan in November of 1946 and was discharged from the Army as a Corporal.

After the military, he enrolled at the University of Kansas where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1949. He finished his Medical Doctor’s degree at the University of Kansas in Kansas City, KS in 1952, followed by a medicine internship at Ancker Hospital in St. Paul, MN. He moved to Smith Center, KS to join his friends R.G. “Shep” Sheppard, Lafe Bauer, and Dennis Hardman in practice of medicine in rural Kansas.

In 1953, Hugh was introduced to Joan Claire Shaver, a home economics teacher at Smith Center High School. Hugh and Jo were married on April 2nd, 1955 in the Smith Center United Methodist Church.

He stepped away from Smith Center in July 1955 to continue his training in internal medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center, completing his studies in 1956. He returned to Smith Center where he remained for more than three decades. During this time, he served in various roles at the Smith County Memorial Hospital, including Vice-President and President. Hugh was in one of the first groups of individuals awarded Board Certification by the newly established American Academy of Family Practice in 1977. He became a Fellow of the American Academy, re-certifying in 1985. He was a member of the North Central Kansas Medical Society, the Kansas Medical Society and the American Medical Association. He served as a Preceptor for the University of Kansas School of Medicine for 20 years, hosting many fourth year medical students for a month of rural medicine experience. Hugh had a life-long interest in cardiology and late in his career obtained special training and certification in gerontology. He was a designated flight examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration from 1962 until 1985. He also served on the Smith Center School Board of Education for 13 years of which he was President during his last two years of service. During his time as President, the new $1.6 million Smith Center Jr. – Sr. High School was built, which is still used today by the families of Smith County.

In 1987, Hugh and Jo moved to Grand Island, Nebraska where he practiced at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital. He was the Director of the VA’s Long Term Care unit and Nebraska State Nursing Home, retiring from medical practice and the VA in 1992. Shortly thereafter, Hugh and Jo moved to Lee Summit, MO to be closer to children and grandchildren.

Hugh was a prolific gardener, small plane pilot, Man-of-War sailboat captain usually with a crew of one child, both often ending up wet, and an avid spectator of his children’s sporting events. His passion was reading and supporting the Crimson and Blue Jayhawks, a true Kansan through-and-through.

His wife of 58 years and four children survive. The oldest, Timothy Mark Woods, is a Doctor of Pharmacy and resides in Lenexa, KS with his wife, Toni. Mitchell Lee Woods is a Security Officer and resides in Overland Park, KS. Michael Scott Woods is a physician working in patient safety and resides in Suffield, CT with his fiancé, Jan de Ubl. Wendy Sue Woods works at J.P. Morgan Chase and resides in Greenwood, MO. There are five grandchildren: Megan (Eric) Buell, Christopher Woods and Elian Belen, all of greater Kansas City, and Ian and Jenna Woods of Suffield, CT. There is one great grandchild, Owen Buell, of Kansas City.

His parents, Sam and Hattie, his brothers George and Dwight, and nephew James Woods preceded him in death. A Celebration of Life service will be held at McGilley Memorial Chapel, 12301 State Line Road, Kansas City, MO at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, 2013.

The family would like to express their gratitude to the compassionate staff and caretakers at Villa Ventura and Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to KU Endowment. Please mail to KU Endowment, Attn: Robin—Hugh Woods Memorial, Mailstop 3012, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Kansas City, KS, 66160. Please offer condolences at


  • Celebration of Life Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hugh J. Woods, M.D.

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Michael Elkin

March 30, 2014

I had the pleasure of knowing Hugh for 9 years. He was the kindest gentleman I have ever met and had a profound and everlasting influence on my life. What a great man. While I regret being disconnected for many years, my heart is heavy and I grieve for the family upon finding this out months later. Thank you, Hugh, Jo, Wendy, Mike, Mark, and Mitch. You did so much for me.

Jimmie Bacon

May 26, 2013

I am so sorry to hear of the death of Dr. Woods. I never met him but my father, Carl Smith, was his first cousin. I can remember going to Sam and Hattie's house in Caney, KS and seeing the beautiful staircase. May God bless the family. It sounds like he was a great man and I just wish I could have met him.

maria rollison

May 24, 2013

I am a neighbor of Wendy Woods and my family would like to express our deepest sympathy to you and your family. Although I've never met Hugh J. Woods I have been graced with a great friendship from one of his greatest jewels Ms. Wendy Woods. After reading this obituary today I now know why she is such a great person,friend and neighbor.
God Bless, Rollison Family (greenwood,mo)

David Sheppard

May 24, 2013

Dear Jo and Family,

We are so sorry for your loss. I have such fond memories of Hugh and the many hours he spent with my Dad and our family and the sense of humor he always displayed. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

Harry Simpson

May 23, 2013

Rest Hugh, until you hear at dawn,
the low, clear reveille of God.

Thank you for your service to this nation.

May 23, 2013

For the entire Hardman family I extend our deepest condolences to you, Jo, and the wonderful Woods family on the passing of Hugh J. Peaceful rest has claimed our father's colleague and dear friend. A gentleman and a gentle man. As you will miss him, so shall we.

Philip and Deb Hardman, Osborne, KS
Jim and Grayson Hardman, Louisville, CO
John Hardman, Jamestown, CO
Dennis A Hardman, MD, Louisville, CO

Bob and Amy Hanson

May 23, 2013

Jo and family: We were all better citizens of Smith Center because you shared Doc with us. Our thoughts are with you.

Deb Hardman

May 23, 2013

Dear Jo and Family,

So sorry to hear of Hugh's passing. He was a prince of a man. I have always felt that truely the nicest people I know are the people I met thourough the family I married into. When Philip and I married and moved back to the area Jo and Hugh frequentley invited me into their home while Philip played tennis in the evenings in Smith Center. I have very fond memories of those visits. Thanks for years of friendship.

Ann Anderson

May 23, 2013

Jo and Wendy,
My thoughts and prayers are with each of you and your entire family during this time.

Jay and Christy (Simons) Roach

May 23, 2013

Jo, Mark, Mitch, Mike, Wendy and all - you are in our thoughts and prayers! I am so grateful for all of the time I got to spend with Hugh and your entire family as Wendy's friend. All of you kids are a reflection of who Hugh was and what he stood for and he will always be a part of you. I hate not being there for Hugh's Memorial and for all of you. Wendy and Elian - you are in my heart. We love you!