George Woodage was a regular at our Whitley Way Back When meet ups, he was always willing to share a good yarn from yesteryear. Hence we felt great sadness when we recently learned of his passing. George passed away in hospital after a fall at home. He put up a brave fight to the end and thankfully did not suffer for long.
Our condolences and thoughts go to Gemma, Sue and his family at this difficult time.
We first met George a few years ago at one of our Way Back When events. He visited us for the first time with his sister and became an instant hit with his tales about his life growing up in Whitley. For a 91 year old George had incredible recollection and was quite the storyteller. He touched everyone with his humour, whether he was telling us about his boyhood pranks or with stories like how his father had fashioned a toy gun holster for him from boot leather.
George’s interesting, no holds barred way of talking became infectious and it was clear we had to record his stories. George was very happy to be recorded, he would joke about his celebrity status and appeared at each Way Back When event right up until lockdown put everything on pause.
George had a razor sharp mind and his detailed chats brought everything to life for us. George never minced his words. In fact people are now happy to refer to parts of Whitley in ways that previously had been a little taboo. George embraced the reality as that was at the heart of where his affection for Whitley came from and who can forget George’s stories about ‘sh*tty ditch?!
As a young lad George had many scrapes and adventures with his mates, many of which have been recorded or mentioned on our Whitley Community Museum Facebook Group. One story that sticks in David Turner’s mind (our lead museum volunteer) was regarding George’s insistence of learning how to fly and practicing in a glider.George led a full, interesting and happy life. He was never out of work and worked in most industries from painting, bricklaying, electrical and plumbing – you name it George could do it. Many of you will remember seeing him around Whitley on his bike or pushing a wooden tradesman’s barrow. George was also happy to talk about his family, sadly George’s wife, who he adored, died a few years ago. Although a very sad time for George, he decided the best way to grieve was to celebrate the life they had together by sharing their stories.
So much more could be written about George, and on our facebook group the outpouring of lovely messages from many of the people he touched shows how much he was loved and respected. The epitome of the Whitley gentleman. He will be sorely missed but at least we have George’s written and recorded stories. Missed but never forgotten.
Thank you George for your friendship, your chats, your amusing stories – love from us all at Whitley CDA
Miss your stories George, they stirred some of my own childhood memories of Reading, places and things that I had quite forgotten, reunited with your lovely wife R.I.P