"It was always warm, with everything you needed,'' said Woodworth, whose recent $1 million gift to the capital campaign for the new East Moline Public Library gave the planned multimillion-dollar project a surprising — and monstrous — boost.
"I grew up in two places in East Moline: the library and at Short Hills Country Club, where I was the caddymaster,'' said Woodworth, who now lives in Seattle, Wash. "Dorothy, the cook at Short Hills, always fed me, and I always had the library as a place to go to get warm and do whatever I needed to do.''
Woodworth, a successful investment manager, said his childhood buddy Bill Ward, a former East Moline mayor, made him realize what a great investment the new library would be. The project of renovating the donated TBK Bank building to turn it into the city's library is slated to begin in 2020.
"I have known Bill Ward, who went on to be (a two-term) mayor of East Moline, almost all my life,'' Woodworth said by phone from his Seattle home. Woodworth also owns a home nestled along the 18th fairway at the famed Pebble Beach Golf Club.
"Bill went on to be a huge success and served his community with great pride,'' Woodworth said of Ward, who also served a term as an East Moline alderman. "He is still working on behalf of East Moline. He is the one that showed me how great this project can be. He's a wonderful man.''
In an effort to assist a variety of projects in East Moline, Ward called on United Township High School alums who graduated before 1959. Woodworth, who stays in regular contact with Ward, took notice of the library on Ward's list of projects in need of donations.
"He responded first for $15,000,'' Ward said of Woodworth. "And then he realized what great plans they had to take the library to the next level. Recently, he decided the project could use a seven-figure boost.''
The huge gift came as a pleasant surprise to Laura Long, director of the East Moline Public Library.
"We were grateful and humbled by Mr. Woodworth's first gift of $15,000,'' Long said. "And then floored — a really great floored — by his latest and extraordinary gift. In honor of his generosity, we plan to name a wing in Mr. Woodworth's honor. We are so taken with his generosity.''
For Ward, it was just a matter of a pair of old buddies catching up and deciding a special place in East Moline could use a boost.
"I've always stayed in touch with Lou,'' Ward said of Woodworth, a 1951 United Township High School graduate. "He was the caddymaster at Short Hills who stole fruit and berries from the orchard like the rest of us, earned the famous Chick Evans caddy scholarship to Northwestern, went out and made good, and never stopped thinking about home.
"He is a special, special man; a pretty great golfer; a dandy of a pool player; and the Arthur Murray of all the dances growing up.''
Along with offering high praise for Woodworth, Long said Ward deserves a huge pat on the back, too.
"Mayor Ward never stops advocating for the city that he loves so dearly,'' Long said. "This doesn't happen without him and his cultivating a relationship with a lifelong friend. We are grateful Mayor Ward is always on the lookout to better his community.''
Woodworth said he doesn't have any plans to return to East Moline to see his gift in action, but that could change.
"You never know, but I don't need to see what I know has always been a special place,'' Woodworth said of the East Moline Public Library. "I'm impressed with the director, impressed with the project, and know it will be the special place it always has been with the new building. If I do get home — and I might — I'm going to visit the library and Short Hills. Both are big parts of my life.''