- Robert Crozier Woodward, 92, died March 29, 2017, at a Bangor health care facility following a long period of failing health. He was born May 26, 1924, in Lancaster, NH, the son of Edson Freeman Woodward and Elizabeth (Crozier) Woodward.
In 1962, Woodward became only the seventh director of the Bangor Public Library, which was established in 1883. During the next 28 years, until his retirement in 1990, the two things of which he was most proud were his colleagues, and the unusually strong per capita circulation of the Bangor Public Library.
Of the staff, Woodward once remarked to a Bangor Daily News reporter: "I'm particularly proud of the people we have here," explaining how the library's deserved reputation for excellence in service was due to the competence and commitment to the public by his comparatively small and dedicated corps of librarians on Harlow Street.
During his tenure at the Bangor Public Library, circulation grew 20 percent, juvenile circulation increased by half despite a decline in the student population, and on a per capita basis, Bangor's circulation was the highest of any metropolitan library in New England. Bangor also was loaning more books every year than the public libraries in Portland, Manchester, NH, Pittsfield, MA, or Burlington, VT.
Although successful in guiding libraries throughout the region in a career that spanned more than 40 years, Woodward didn't plan initially to become a librarian.
After graduating from Lancaster (NH) Academy, the 18-year-old Woodward's enrollment at Bates College was quickly interrupted by a draft notice. He served honorably in the U.S. Army from March of 1943 to January, 1946, discharged with the rank of sergeant. His military service provided the opportunity to meet Eliane (cq) Cornellier while he was stationed at Fort Devens, in Ayer, MA. The two would marry in 1946, and remain together for more than 63 years, until Eliane's death in 2010.
On an education track to become a history teacher, with a B.A. from Bates and an M.A. from Boston University, he found his calling unexpectedly when he answered an ad for a position at the Boston Public Library. From the first day there, he knew he wanted to be a librarian, and after five years in Boston in the reference department and later the history department, his career path led to a seven-year directorship of the Dedham, MA, Public Library.
In 1959, while directing the Dedham library, Woodward was elected by the administrators of the libraries in eastern Massachusetts to chair the committee that would plan its regional library system. Regional library development were a hallmark of Woodward's career, and in 1972, he was appointed to the Maine Library Advisory Committee which prepared the plan for statewide library services, which was accepted by the Maine Legislature and funded in 1974. In that year, he was elected the first chairman of the Maine Library Commission, a post he held for eight years. During that time the state developed a support system for libraries that became one of the most heavily used inter-library loan networks in the nation. It allowed needed materials to come quickly to students attending remote schools in the state and to users of libraries in the smallest towns.
Woodward was an officer of state and regional professional organizations, serving as president of the New England Library Association. He also was active in the civic life of Bangor, serving as a board member and officer of a number of organizations, including Family and Child Services, the Counseling Center (now, Community Health and Counseling Services), the Bangor Rotary, the Fine Arts Commission and the United Way.
With wife Eliane, Robert travelled throughout the American West, the two of them experiencing the desert locales of the rich Native American history in Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. They're interest in history led them to California, and to Europe, where France, Italy, and Great Britain were favorites, and they regularly enjoyed cruise ship stops in the Caribbean.
A dedicated runner—Woodward ran an average of 5 miles a day until he was 70—his athletic interests included hiking, cross-country skiing, golf, and alpine skiing, a sport he loved as a boy and a passion that continued through adulthood until the age of 85.
In addition to his parents and his wife, Eliane, Woodward was predeceased by a brother, Edson F. Woodward, and a sister, Ann E. Smith. He is survived by three sons, Mark Woodward and his wife, Bridget, of Bangor; Edson Woodward and his wife, Sue-Ellen of Falmouth, Matthew Woodward of Bangor, and one daughter, Nancy Woodward or Portland; one granddaughter, Christiana (Woodward) Cough and husband Joel Cough of Stoneham, MA; five grandsons, Scott Bodford of Oak View, CA, Zachary Woodward of Holden, Samuel Woodward of Falmouth, Caleb Woodward and Joshua Woodward of Bangor; one great-granddaughter, Juliet Eliane Cough of Stoneham, MA, and several nieces and nephews.
The family thanks the exceptional staff of Engle Place, Ross Manor, for their superb care of Robert, and the staff of Beacon Hospice for their professionalism and kindness. A memorial service will be held 11 a.m., Saturday, April 15, 2017, at Brookings-Smith, 133 Center Street, Bangor, with the Rev. Dr. Rex H. Garrett officiating. The family invites relatives and friends to share conversation and refreshments at the Family Reception Center of Brookings-Smith, 163 Center Street, Bangor, immediately following the service Saturday. Friends who wish may make donations to the Bangor Public Library or to the Alzheimer's Association, Maine Chapter, 383 US Route One, Suite 2C, Scarborough, ME 04074, in memory of Robert's wife, Eliane Woodward. Condolences to the family may be expressed at www.BrookingsSmith.com.
Published on  March 31, 2017