Family and friends of longtime Suffield public schools employee Carol Woodruff gathered at Thursday to remember the life of a dedicated and well-liked fixture of Suffield’s schools.
The centerpiece of the ceremony was a memorial tree and plaque added to the otherwise open lawn of Suffield Middle School, near the central office where Woodruff spent years as the special education secretary.
Woodruff, who passed away in June 2011, was a consistent presence in the school system’s special education department. Suffield Board of Education member Mary Roy called Woodruff the “institutional memory” of the department, her continuing service providing a touchstone as seven different special education directors came and went throughout her career.
“She made it possible for us to not fall apart every time a director left,” Roy said. “She was a very warm and caring person. She was a gem.”
Dawn Lee, a fellow central office employee who was close with Woodruff, was happy to see her friend and co-worker remembered.
“She was an amazing lady, one of a kind,” Lee said.
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Lori Johnson, Woodruff’s daughter, was one member of the three generations of Woodruff’s family that attended the event. Lori Johnson took in the ceremony with her brother John Woodruff, their father Robert Woodruff, her husband Jeffrey Johnson and their children Derek and Chelsey Johnson.
“It was so nice,” Johnson said.
She noted that Suffield school employees went “above and beyond” in their tribute to her late mother, including the tree and plaque honoring Carol Woodruff and the donation from the school system to Springfield’s Mercy Medical Center palliative care unit.
Woodruff, who resided in Agawam, MA, began her career in Suffield at Spaulding School and then worked at McAlister Intermediate School before becoming special education secretary. Besides her 25 years in Suffield, Woodruff also worked for Hamilton Standard, National Metal Industries and Farm Credit Bank. She served on the board of directors for the Tobacco Valley Teachers Federal Credit Union and was named Miss Congeniality in Enfield in 1957, according to her obituary on masslive.com.
Contributions in Woodruff’s name are welcome at the Shriner’s Hospital for Children (516 Carew Street, Springfield, MA, 01104) and the Mercy Medical Center palliative care unit (271 Carew Street, Springfield, MA, 01104).