Leon Woodfield (1934 – 2013)

Leon Woodfield (1934-2013)

My Uncle Leon recently passed away.  He was a very kind and insightful person.  He was also very influential in shaping my career.  I spoke with him several times about academia and graduate school because he was a Professor at BYU.  At the request of my father, I recently wrote up a specific memory of my Uncle Leon:

I don’t remember whose farewell it was, Josh’s or Katie’s, but I know that I had just been accepted to graduate school at the University of Cincinnati, so this would have been in the Spring or Summer of 2001. My Aunt Janet and Uncle Leon came to the farewell, and at the lunch afterward I made my way to Uncle Leon to ask him about what I should expect in graduate school. I remember precisely where we were. We were standing in what used to be my parents’ garden – at the bottom of their yard, overlooking the valley, and we both had drinks in our hands.

As we talked, he gave me some really amazing advice, advice that I have since passed on to many of my students. He told me that I needed to find an adviser in graduate school with whom I could get along. While it is important that your research interests align, he told me that it was more important that advisees be on good terms with their advisers. He also compared the adviser/advisee relationship to the master/apprentice relationship that was once common in learning a trade. As he explained it, “Your adviser will make or break not only your graduate school experience, but your career. You need to pick the right person to be your adviser.” He told me about a student he knew when he was in graduate school who had been working on his PhD for close to ten years who was eventually told to leave because he was never going to get his degree, in large part because he and his adviser did not get along and did not agree on the projects required to complete the degree.

That advice proved invaluable. I found an amazing adviser in graduate school. Our personal interests didn’t align perfectly (he loves baseball and Jazz, neither of which hold much appeal for me), but we got along very well and he has been incredibly influential in shaping my career in academia. In all likelihood, I would not have made most of the professional contacts I currently have – which have helped me publish most of my research – nor would I have the job that I have without my adviser’s guidance and help. And that is all due to the sage advice of my Uncle Leon. In very tangible ways, Uncle Leon has helped shape my career.


Here’s his obituary from the Deseret News:

After a life filled with love, joy, and many miracles, Leon Warren Woodfield returned to his loving Heavenly Father on October 2, 2013. Leon was born on January 13, 1934 in Ogden, Utah to Ray Weldon and Vera Jane Campbell Woodfield. He had three brothers and one sister: Norman, Keith, Arlo, and Mary Lou. He was raised in North Ogden where he learned the importance of family and hard work as the family worked together herding cows, riding horses, and harvesting crops. Leon’s love of horses, dogs, and a “well-groomed field” continued throughout his life.

Leon met the love of his life, Janet Cragun, on the first day of 1st grade. The childhood crush turned into a true love that was solemnized when they were married in the Salt Lake LDS Temple on September 10, 1953. Leon always considered Janet his greatest blessing and loved her with all of his heart. They recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

Leon put his family first and foremost. He showered much love and attention on his five children and their spouses: Janalee and Steven Hallmark, Heidi and Bill Woahn, Melia and Steve Fidel, Craig and Marilee Whiting Woodfield, and Chris and Lesley Ponder Woodfield, 22 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren.

Education played a vital role in Leon’s life. He received an associate degree from Weber College, Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees from the University of Utah, and a Doctor of Business Administration from Michigan State University. Leon worked as a certified public accountant at the Arthur Young Accounting Firm in Los Angeles. He then taught as a professor in the Accounting Department at Brigham Young University for 40 years, where he served as department chair and received various awards and recognitions. Leon is esteemed by his colleagues and loved by his students to this day. He considered himself blessed to have a job that he loved.

Leon had an unwavering testimony of our Savior. His life is his witness. Leon served The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a bishop, high councilor, councilor in a stake presidency, teacher, temple worker, and dedicated home teacher. He and Janet served as full-time missionaries in Oklahoma.

Leon was an avid fan of BYU and the U of U (except when their teams played each other). He enjoyed worldwide travels with his wife and family, maintaining his beautiful yard, and time with family and friends at the Fairview cabin. He would beam with pride as he attended his grandchildren’s sporting, school, and performing events. Leon had a deep respect for his ancestors and loved to share their stories. He was a member of the Sons of Utah Pioneers and active in community affairs.

Leon understood what was important in life: he loved his wife, nurtured his children, and played with his grandchildren. As his family, our hearts are broken because we will miss his gentle, wise influence, yet we rejoice because we were able to know and love this humble, great man. We take comfort in the fact that he always told each of us he loved us, that we were his “favorite,” and that we all look just like him! He said he was “a man of adequate ability,” but we know better: we are what we are as a family because of Daddy.

Leon endured his years of declining health with dignity and patience. He always tried to be cheerful, helpful, and loving to those around him. We thank friends and neighbors, the Springville 3rd Ward, medical staffs, DaVita Dialysis and iCare for their loving service to Leon and his family.

A celebration of Leon’s life will be held on Monday, October 7 at 11:00 a.m. at the Springville 3rd Ward LDS chapel, 355 E. Center Street, Springville, Utah. Well-wishers may greet the family on Sunday evening, October 6, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Wheeler Mortuary, 211 E. 200 South, in Springville and before the service from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Monday at the church. A graveside service will be held at the Ben Lomond Cemetery, 526 E. 2850 North, North Ogden, Utah at 5:00 p.m. that evening.

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Busch Gardens creatures

I mostly film Toren when we visit Busch Gardens, but I ended up filming a couple of other creatures while we were there one day.  Here’s an ant eater giving it’s baby a ride on its back:

Toren insisted I film the mother giving the baby a ride.

Toren found this snail crawling across a sidewalk and I wanted to see if my new phone camera could capture it, so I shot a couple of short clips:

Perhaps not the most exciting videos, but I was impressed with the quality of the videos on my phone.

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first cancelled class… in 5 years

I will have taught at the University of Tampa for five years at the end of this semester.  During that time I’ve cancelled classes for conferences, which I usually know about well in advance.  I also cancelled classes once when my brother Mark died.  But I’ve never cancelled a class because I was sick or had some other minor issue.  Well, it finally happened.  On my way in to teach one morning I hit something in the road and it literally blew out my tire:

There were two smaller gashes in the tire as well.

Even with a blown tire I thought I’d have enough time to get to class.  But, alas, my spare tire was flat, which I found out after I put it on.  I ended up cancelling two classes that morning while I went to the auto shop to get my tire replaced.  Ugh!

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Debi and I came up with an idea a few years ago about two kids, Mari and Darwin, who interview people with different jobs to learn about different occupations.  The original idea was a book series, but given all of our other projects and interests, the idea got shelved.  Then I found xtranormal.com and realized I could probably make it an animated series.  So, here are the first two episodes in the video series I’m calling “Jobbrz”:

In the first video they visit a lawyer, Tessa Carter:

[link removed]

In the second video they visit a mechatronic engineer, Tarik Cassar:

[link removed]

I’ve put these together at night, rather than work in front of the TV.

Feedback is welcome!

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4th of July at beach

Debi came down with pinkeye on the 3rd of July, so we opted to stay away from people as much as possible.  We opted for the beach on the 4th, which Toren always enjoys.  We went to Fort de Soto, which is always beautiful and rarely busy, but it filled up pretty quick on the 4th.  Here are some pics:

enjoying a snack
the sandcastle I built

Toren couldn’t help with the sandcastle very well as he had a hard time turning over the buckets.  But he did help me fill up the moat:

Toren carried the bucket; I carried Toren

And once we had documentary evidence, we let loose our little godzilla:

He reminds me of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes who would build stuff like this just to destroy it.

And what is a day at the beach without the obligatory shot of mother and son falling asleep almost instantly on the way home:

“That beach wiped me out, Mom.” “Me too, Toren.”

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Morgans et al in Florida

I finally found the time to post summaries of the Morgan Family’s trip to Florida in late May.  Here are the relevant links:

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Morgans et al in Florida – Day 8 – beach, pool and photos

This was the last day of the vacation.  The rest of the family had early evening flights out of Orlando.  That meant we had time in the morning to go the pool and beach for a short time then pack up, take some family photos, and hit the road.  The pool and beach were fun, but we had a lot of packing to do so we didn’t get to play very long.  Then we all got cleaned up and headed out to the beach for some family photos.  Here are the results:

photo on the beach

And one more in the gardens of the resort:

family photo in the garden

It was a fun trip.  And there was one big perk for us – we parlayed our Busch Gardens/Sea World pass into a season pass for relatively cheap, so we can now go to Busch Gardens whenever we want.  We’ve already been three more times, so it has paid for itself.  Toren seems to like it.

Anyway, that’s the short version of the trip (been too busy to write this up until now).

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Morgans et al in Florida – Day 7 – Busch Gardens

I can’t really speak for everyone else on the trip, but I think it’s probably safe to say that most of us had relatively low expectations of Busch Gardens in Tampa.  We had just visited four of the world’s most famous amusement parks – Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, and Sea World – and really were not expecting very much from Busch Gardens.  Debi and I, despite having lived in Tampa now for 4 years, had never been to Busch Gardens, though our friends had and they seemed to think it was fine.  So, with low expectations, we bundled everyone into the cars and headed out.

Turns out, Busch Gardens is pretty cool and a very nice contrast to the Orlando theme parks.  While it was busy (and we now know it’s busier on the weekends), it wasn’t even close to as busy as were the Disney parks or Sea World.  Also, there is a kid’s area at Busch Gardens with a Sesame Street theme that has everything all together: splash pads, wading pools, kids rides, food, family bathrooms, etc.  I think most everyone thought Busch Gardens was the highlight of the trip as everyone really seemed to enjoy it.

Rosemary booked a lunch experience with Sesame Street characters.  The lunch, while simple, was actually perfect – it was a buffet with food items kids will eat: macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, vegetables, rolls, etc. and it was good enough that all of the adults liked it as well.  While you’re eating, Sesame Street characters come into the pavilion and put on a little show then walk around for photos.  Toren, once again, freaked out when the characters got close, even though he actually knows who Elmo is (he has watched a number of Sesame Street episodes).  He wouldn’t shake their hands, touch them, or even look at them for the most part.  He just huddled next to me, waiting for them to leave:

Toren loves Cookie Monster, but not in real life! 🙁
a photo with Elmo and Big Bird; Toren just stared at Big Bird the whole time

The other kids seemed to enjoy themselves.

Debi had to leave for class after lunch, and Toren had had enough of the characters, so we skipped out early and headed for the splash pads.  Not realizing they had splash pads, we didn’t bring a swimsuit for Toren, but we always have swim diapers in his diaper bag, so I threw on a swim diaper and let him have at it:

He had a great time in the splash pad.  He even made some, well, let’s say really close friends.  Close enough that one boy pinched his butt and a little girl decided to check out his… um… package (funniest video ever):


After a good hour and a half of playing in the water, Toren was ready for something different.  So we got him dressed and went on the rides.  Here he is on the merry-go-round:

Then he went for a ride on the swings.  Two videos of that:

There were so few people at Busch Gardens that the kids basically got to ride the rides over and over.  Occasionally they would be the only ones on the rides.  It was great.

Debi met back up with us after her class and we stopped at Subway by our house on the way back to the beach then called it a night.

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Morgans et al in Florida – Day 6 – Treasure Island Beach

We drove to Treasure Island, which is a barrier island right next to St. Petersburg, and checked into some very nice condos right on the beach.  We then all went out to the beach and played, then transitioned to the resort’s swimming pools, before heading in for dinner and a relatively relaxing evening.  I ended up cooking dinner (the condos had full kitchens) and don’t like taking my nice camera to the beach, so no photos of this day.  It was a nice change of pace, though, from amusement parks.

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Morgans et al in Florida – Day 5 – Sea World

Day 5 took us to Sea World.  Debi and I went to Sea World in, I think, 2003, over the winter break, so we remembered some of the attractions.  But they have changed the shows substantially since then so there was plenty new to see. Also, we have a kid now, which changes the way you approach amusement parks.

We saw the killer whale show in Shamu Stadium and the dolphin show (some saw it twice while Brent and I went on an adult ride; Manta).  We also saw A’Lure, which is like low budget Cirque du Soleil show that was good.  But, mostly, the kids played in the kids play area.  With both Debi and I around, I was free to snap some photos with the good camera.  Here are some shots of Toren playing in the play area:

Toren playing a steel drum
Toren asking Sid the Science Kid’s question, “What’s up with the sky?”

A quick clip on the Merry-Go-Round:

And here are a few shots from the shows (helps having a nice camera):

big air!
synchronized whale jumping

While Toren liked the the shows, particularly the dolphin show that now incorporates birds, divers, and other students, for some reason he kept gravitating to a pearl diving attraction (divers will dive down and pick up oysters for you with pearls in them).  Not sure what he loved about this, but we must have spent about 1 1/2 hours here watching the divers:

the diver is just to Toren’s right; not sure what he’s doing with his legs here
he was spoiled with gummy snacks during this trip
Um, yeah… Not sure but it’s funny.

This was our last day in Orlando.  I think we ate pizza at the hotel this night.

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