Headline — 22 August 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
John Woods passes at 75

He was the first Kolbe Foundation chairman and Cisco Construction founder

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Aug. 20, 2018– In 1969, John Charnley Woods was a 27-year-old pilot who came to Belize and made himself at home, carving out his own unique place in his new home and leaving an impressive legacy of his life’s work when he passed away on Saturday, August 18, 2018 in the United States. Woods, the son of Anne and William Woods of Houston, Texas, was 75 at the time of his death.

When he first came to Belize, he was the manager of a spice farm that was located in St. Ann’s Village, located on the old Northern Highway, in the vicinity of Maskall Village. On the day he arrived in Belize, Woods met Martha Ordonez at Barclays Bank, and six months later, they were married.

Woods, according to his son Francis Woods, had been battling cancer for a number of years prior to his passing.

About three years ago, Woods stepped aside from his chairmanship of the Kolbe Foundation; an organization he spearheaded when the Belize Central Prison was privatized and his non-profit foundation took over its management in the early 2000s.

Francis Woods said that in early 2000 his father was challenged by Richard “Dickie” Bradley, who was the minister responsible for the prisons at the time.

“When he went there at first he was saddened by the condition that he found at the prison,” Francis Woods said.

So with the help of several fellow Rotarians, they created a nonprofit,  privately managed prison. The Kolbe Foundation mission: A secure humane facility geared towards meaningful rehabilitation and reintegration.

“He saw the work of managing the prison as an opportunity to help the country and in the end he changed the entire culture of the prison. The place had really improved,” Francis Woods said.

John Woods was also the founder of Cisco Construction, a company that he started in the mid-1970s and which subsequently grew and became very successful. Woods eventually relocated his family to Belize City, where he became a member of the Rotary Club of Belize.

In 2005, John Woods ventured into Belize’s fledging tourism industry. His wife had an impressive collection of historical Belizean antiques that he used to create Old Belize, at Kukumba Beach, around Mile 5 on the George Price Highway.

Francis Woods said his father was very proud of Old Belize, because he had created a place where Belizean families could go to recreate and have fun.

Woods also contributed to Belize’s growth in agriculture when he ventured into the citrus industry.

John Woods has been successful throughout his life by keeping God as his partner; treating people with respect and always trying to do what is right, said Francis Woods.

Asked how best he would remember his dad, Francis said he believes that his dad was used by God to do different things. “He was an amazing guy, now we are hearing stories that we never heard before about him; how he helped people and believed in giving people a second chance,” he said.

John Woods was the father of five children:  Francis, Carolyn, William, Samantha, and Madelyn.

A funeral mass to celebrate the life of John Woods will be held at St. Martin De Porres Church on Saturday, September 1.

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