Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chip Woodrum: A 'Damn Good Man' Is Gone from Us

I shot this, perhaps last, photo of Chip recently for a story in moreFRONT.
I just heard that Chip Woodrum died tonight and it is difficult to maintain my composure. This was a good and decent man, a Roanoker who understood public service, who felt for people who had little and knew how to motivate those with much to be the best they could.

Chip (nobody ever called him "Clifton" that I'm aware of) served in the General Assembly for years as part of one of the most effective teams of legislators this region ever had. They worked in concert--Democrats and Republicans--to make this little corner of the state's voice heard, to stabilize our economy, to enrich our arts opportunities and to lure important employers here. They did not create a nasty and bitter political climate, but worked together and with members with whom they often disagreed to create a better Virginia.

Chip, who was 74, was a steadying, sober, humorous and wise leader of the group for 24 years, tempering Dick Cranwell's penchant for political hardball and some of the others' more radical tendencies to create a force for good. I never talked to Chip when he didn't have a good word and a joke, mixed with political commentary that was insightful, mature, irreverent and fascinating to hear.

He did not suffer fools well and the current level of discourse--not to mention the level of people representing this region--in the General Assembly made him sad and angry, but it also brought out some of his best and most biting humor.

He leaves a fine family, two of whom I know well--his wonderful wife Emily and his daughter Anne, whom I adore. Anne and her siblings will carry on the monumental Woodrum name, much as Chip carried his father's, grandfather's and great-grandfather's names with such dignity, flare and grace. (His dad, U.S. Congressman Clifton Woodrum, Sr., was the namesake for Woodrum Field at Roanoke Regional Airport.)

I'm going to miss him strolling down Campbell Ave. in his navy blazer, blue shirt, regimental striped tie, kahki pants and beacon smile.

Chip was a good man. A damn good man.


  1. Dan, beautifully wrought. Thanks for capturing him so well.

  2. Terrible, terrible news. Chip was truly one of the good guys.

  3. This is terrible news. Chip was one of the best. As a reporter at the General Assembly, I could always count on him for good info, even when it was unflattering to him or his political allies

  4. Well said, Dan. He was one of a kind.

  5. Well said, Dan. He was one of a kind.