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Courtney N. Woodcock, 92, passed away peacefully at home on Thursday, October 19, 2023, surrounded by family. A longtime teacher and coach in the Greenfield school system, Courtney was also well-known and highly respected in Franklin County and throughout Western Massachusetts as a baseball umpire and basketball official at the high school and college levels.
Courtney was born in Orange, MA on April 19, 1931, the son of the late Margaret (Moore) and Melvin E. Woodcock Sr. He married Barbara E. Kennedy at the Methodist Church in Athol on June 29, 1957, in a ceremony conducted by two pastors, Donald Freeman and Clarence Avery. He and Barbara first moved to Greenfield in 1960, and there they raised their four children – Donna, Dana, Scott and Karen.
Courtney graduated from Orange High School with the Class of 1949. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1950. He advanced to the rank of Airman First Class and was honorably discharged in December 1953.
Inspired by his love of baseball, Courtney attended umpire school in Daytona Beach, FL, and subsequently worked as an umpire in the Florida League.
Early in his professional career, Courtney attended oil burner school in Springfield and worked for a time at Hamilton Standard.
In 1957, he began classes at Fitchburg State College and in 1960 earned a Bachelor of Science degree and his masters in 1961. He continued his education at Union College in Schenectady, NY, earning a second Master of Science degree.
Courtney began his teaching career at Greenfield Junior High School in 1960. He spent 19 years there, before moving to Greenfield High School in 1979 as a science teacher. He started his coaching career as the 8th grade football coach and 9th grade boys’ basketball coach. He went on to coach the girls’ varsity basketball team at Greenfield High School from 1978-1994.
The 1990 girls’ basketball team he coached delivered one of the most memorable achievements in Greenfield sports history – an improbable overtime win in the semifinals of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 tournament over top-seeded and two-time defending champion Monument Mountain. The championship game was a loss, but noteworthy nonetheless…it came at the hands of a Southwick High School team led by future Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Rebecca Lobo.
Courtney retired in 1993 after 33 years of teaching and coaching. Throughout the Greenfield community, he will forever be remembered for the positive impact he had on literally thousands of lives during a career that spanned four decades. His overall approach to teaching and coaching was always to challenge and motivate with a positive attitude. His students and players understood exactly what he expected of them. And they knew from the start that they liked and respected this principled, down-to-earth man. Courtney had an ever-present twinkle in his blue eyes, a welcoming smile, and a natural kindness that resonated with young people and colleagues alike.
In his teaching and coaching, he always placed special emphasis on respect and self-esteem. Many will likely remember Courtney for his trademark expression -- ‘jumpin’ bean juice!’ It became a lifelong calling card…Courtney’s way of adding his own unique emphasis to help drive home a coaching or teaching point.
There was perhaps no better judge of Courtney’s philosophy and approach than his daughter, Donna Woodcock. She articulated it quite well when quoted in a Greenfield Recorder article in March 1988.
“He does a lot to build up a kid’s esteem,” Donna said of her father. “Not just on the field or on the court, but also in school. He keeps track of the kids. I’ll go to a football game with him and a lot of his former players will seek him out to say hello. I look up to him and appreciate what he’s done. I try to emulate him.” And she did.
Beyond his career in education, Courtney had a full array of interests and pursuits. His family and friends meant the world to him. He was devoted to his wife Barbara, his children, his grandchildren, and his extended family. In his later years, he became the de facto leader within the Moore family (his mother Margaret was the oldest of seven Moore siblings who grew up in Orange). Courtney loved the annual Moore Family Reunion, and he delighted in standing up during the business meeting to share little-known family history and regale those in attendance with stories from bygone days.
Friends were an exceedingly important part of Courtney’s life as well. He had many friends in Greenfield and remained close over all the years with the friends he grew up with in Orange. He cherished the hours spent with his Greenfield “coffee buddies” and with the Orange luncheon group.
Following his retirement, he and Barbara spent time in Florida during the winter months. And he absolutely loved the annual summer trip to a large vacation house in Pine Point, Maine that was shared with dear friends from Orange and with his family. Those were wonderful times to Courtney, filled with unending laughter, genuine camaraderie, and always a few elaborate practical jokes that he would mischievously instigate, design and carry out.
Courtney and Barbara loved to travel, visiting Italy and Sicily, Canada, and states across the US, all the way to Alaska. Courtney was also an outstanding gardener and a skilled furniture builder, painter, and craftsman who took great pride in carving his treasured wooden ducks and Santa Claus figures to give away to family and friends.
Courtney lived a long life, and a recent highlight was his surprise 90th birthday celebration in April 2021. It was the height of the COVID outbreak, but people banded together to show their love and make it a special day, featuring a huge car parade in front of his house (including a police cruiser, fire truck and farm tractor) and more than 180 birthday cards filled with well wishes and hand-written memories. In a thank you video that Karen posted on Facebook, Courtney thanked everyone for the wonderful day and humbly said: “It makes me feel real good.”
He leaves his wife of 66 years, Barbara (Kennedy); his son Dana (Susan) of Belchertown; his daughter Karen of Turners Falls; grandchildren Kyle Woodcock of Los Angeles, CA, and Scott and Hannah Perlberg of Turners Falls; step-granddaughter Sara (Ryan) Kirby; and great grandson Jackson Kirby of Baltimore, MD. He also leaves behind a brother-in-law John Wallace of Athol, as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins. Courtney was predeceased by his son Scott K. Woodcock in 1986; his daughter Donna M. Woodcock in May 2023; and his brother Melvin E. Woodcock Jr. of Orange in 2003.
The family would like to thank Pioneer Valley Hospice and the many caretakers who lovingly supported Courtney’s needs over the past few weeks.
Calling hours will be held on Saturday, November 25th from 10-Noon, followed by a service at Kostanski Funeral Home of Greenfield.
A reception will follow at Terrazza's Restaurant 244 Country Club Rd. Greenfield, MA 01301.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Orange Scholarship Foundation, PO Box 298, Orange, MA 01364, or the Children’s Advocacy Center, 56 Wisdom Way, (or PO Box 1099) Greenfield, MA 01301.
For condolence’s, please visit www.kostanskifuneralhome.com