Our Friend, our Mentor, our Colleague – Barry! You will be missed.
August 1, 2020
Dear Unity College,
It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to inform you that Barry Woods has passed today after a battle with cancer. It goes without saying that we will all miss him dearly. He served as a faculty member here for more than 40 years and inspired thousands of students and colleagues in that time. However, his contributions to Unity College are truly immeasurable. His insight, support, and positive attitude have left a profound impact on all of us at Unity College.
I recall Barry telling the story of the first time he visited Unity in 1976. The campus was so small at the time that he almost missed it. Of course, he did find us, and he was welcomed as a faculty member that fall and continued teaching right up until 2019.
Barry’s guidance and support went beyond Unity College and into the town of Unity, where he was a beloved member of the community. In Unity, he not only taught, but he raised a family and volunteered in the community that he called home. Very few remember a Unity without him, including myself.
In addition to being one of the longest serving faculty members and most loyal donors to Unity Fund, he also served as an AP-Statistics Reader and on the Board of Directors for Operation Game Thief, a private, nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the Maine Warden Service. When he wasn’t volunteering here, he was serving overseas and as an educational consultant for the College of the Marshall Islands and the Northern Marianas College in Saipan.
In the early days of the College the stationary tag line was “Come help us build a college.” Barry took that to heart, literally. When he wasn’t teaching statistics, he was helping transform buildings to make them into better classrooms and student spaces. He helped renovate Koons Hall twice on the inside and once on the outside, and he actively participated in building the Loop Road, by running the pan truck carving out where the road should be. He was also instrumental in building the original softball field. Barry Woods watched and helped transform the College from a collection of mismatched buildings to a cohesive campus.
Barry’s teaching in statistics will leave a lasting impact on us all. In more than 40 years, he went from teaching with a slide rule, pen, and pencil to fully embracing technology, his favorite of which was Microsoft Excel, as many of his students will recall.
He once said: “In my class, we will write Excel formulas. We will use the functions that Bill Gates gave us … it’s an outstanding spreadsheet, but I want them to see it [and use it] as a statistics package.” He collaborated with several other faculty members over the years to show students the practical application of statistics in their careers.
After he became ill and couldn’t be on campus daily, he would still check in. He would pop into my office and say hi, just to see how things were going. Last year, during our annual Halloween tradition of handing out candy to students from the staff offices, he asked that we report what our most popular candy or flavor so that he could calculate and post the data. He could find the statistics in anything, even Halloween candy.
On a personal and professional level, Barry’s absence will be felt by all of us at Unity College. His legacy, however, will live on through you – his students and colleagues, and the world will be a better place because of it. For me, I will remember him as kind man who visited with me often over lunch or dinner and shared his stories about the early days of Unity! – But most of all I will miss how kind he was to me. I will miss you my friend.
Please note: Upon the request from the family, a celebration of life event is postponed for a while due to COVID.