May 6, 1934 — May 22, 2019
Gene Woodruff died May 22, 2019, in Corvallis of complications following treatment for CLL and AIHA. He was 85 years old.
Gene spent thirty years as a teacher, a researcher, and as an administrator at the University of Washington. He was a professor of nuclear engineering, director of the nuclear reactor, and chair of the Department of Nuclear Engineering. He later served for nine years as dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for research. Nationally, he chaired the GRE Board (Graduate Records Exam) and was chair of the Association of Graduate Deans. In 1986, he was awarded the Arthur Holly Compton award by the American Nuclear Society.
In 1956, Gene graduated 12th in his class at the U.S. Naval Academy. His years in the U.S. Navy were spent first in flight training, then flying F-11Fs off of "The Intrepid” aircraft carrier, primarily in the Mediterranean and also in the waters off Guantanamo, Cuba. He left the Navy with the rank of lieutenant and moved on to MIT graduate school. There he earned a master’s degree followed by a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering.
Gene met Marylou Munson when he and his best friend from the Naval Academy, Charlie Wilson, went to New York to meet Charlie’s sister returning by ship from Europe. Marylou was her cabin mate aboard ship. Six months later in 1961 Gene and Marylou married.
Gene and Marylou moved from Boston to Seattle in 1965. Gene loved living in the Pacific Northwest, saying “No matter how many trails you hike, you know you will never run out.” He said skiing was a substitute for flying jets. He skied with his kids and eventually his grandkids. It was a joy he wanted them to have and a joy he wanted to share with them.
Post-retirement, he and Marylou moved to the house they had built on Camano Island overlooking Saratoga Passage. He embraced retirement and loved to hang out on the bulkhead with the neighbors, catch crab, and toss the leftover bait to the resident eagles. On a sunny day he’d launch his little boat and go off exploring inlets and beaches all around Camano and Whidbey Island.
Gene and Marylou had three sons, Mark, Greg and David. Mark died in 1980, and that loss sharpened Gene’s connection to his other sons. Nothing made him happier than being with them. He and Marylou moved to Oregon in 2012 to be closer to them. As always, Gene settled right in and made himself at home in Corvallis, going to soccer games and daily walks through neighborhood trails and frequent hikes to Chip Ross Park. He became an active member of ALL (Academy of Lifelong Learning) and why not? It was what he did.
Gene is survived by his wife of 57 years, Marylou, his sons, Greg and David; his daughter-in-law, Karrie; his grandchildren, Adlai and Sylvia; and his eldest sister, Violet Holman.
A private graveside service will be held for the immediate family in June.
Remembrances may be sent to the ARCS Consortium Endowed Fellowship at the University of Washington Graduate School, UW Advancement, ATTN: Gift Services or uw.edu/giving.