Service above self is a phrase that describes Bill Woody’s service to the community.
But after 20 years of serving the community as the Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace, Woody is has called it a career. A reception will be held from 1-3 p.m. on March 30 at the Ellis County Sub-Courthouse in Ennis in honor of his service.
Before working for the county, Woody served in the United States Army and then as a firefighter with the Dallas Fire Department where he retired after 30 years. Woody’s service with the county began after he was elected as Constable for Precinct 1, a position he held for eight years before being elected as a justice of the peace.
Woody said he never really thought about a career in public service but it "just worked out that way." What drew him into the field was the stability that it offered.
“All my Dad had was social security. He ran a filling station here in town and a farm. He didn’t have anything but that,” Woody said. “He raised five kids and lost one of them. There were four of us that finished, and he worked hard all of his life.”
However, the pension is that is not the only reason why he decided to serve as the justice of the peace.
“I felt like I could do a better job than what was being done,” Woody continued. “So I ran for it and beat the incumbent.”
According to the Ellis County website, some of Woody’s duties include issuing warrants for search and arrest, conducting preliminary hearings, administering oaths, performing marriages, serving as a coroner in counties without a medical examiner, enforcing liens on personal property and dealing with matters concerning foreclosure of mortgages.
Woody said some of the memorable moments during his time on the bench were when he had the chances to help young people make positive changes in their lives.
“I used to work truancy when I was a constable. I enjoyed working with the kids. One of the first truancy courts that I had was after I had come into this office. We had over 100 (students) that day,” Woody said. “I had one (young man) that was in truancy (court) and he didn’t care. So I had him come in once a week for a month just to check to see how he was doing and to see what was going on.”
Woody said during the time they met over the course of the month he had gotten reports that he was attending school regularly. After the month was over, Woody didn’t see the young man again.
“He came in one day. The clerk came back, and she said, ‘Judge we have a young man here that is out there with his fiancé and they want to get married, and he is in a Marine uniform,’” Woody said.
Woody said he performed the ceremony right then and got them “hitched up.” He added that seeing the young man made him feel good that he was able to make a difference in his life.
Some of Woody children have followed his example in the field of public service. His oldest son Mark Woody is a captain with the Arlington Fire Department, and his youngest son has served with the Dallas Police Department for the past 22 years. His daughter, Nancy, is a paralegal that currently works for a trucking company.
Woody’s term as Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace expires in 2018. The Ellis County Commissioners Court will appoint a candidate to serve the remainder of the unexpired term.
Woody said the new judge would go through 40 hours of classes and then another 40 hours of classes two or three months later after the first set was completed. Also, other the Ellis County Justices of the Peace will be filling in at the court in Ennis during this transitional period.
Woody said that, following his retirement, he plans to do some travel first with a road trip across the country visiting most of the states in the continental United States. Then he is planning a trip to Alaska next year.
He added that he wanted to thank Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Jackie Miller, Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Curtis Polk and Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Steve Egan, along with his staff, for their help over the years.
“We have all worked together well together. That is what made it so good. I have never had a job in my life that I haven’t liked. I think that I am the luckiest guy in the world,” Woody said. “If you like your job you are the luckiest man in the world. I love this job.”
The Ellis County Sub-Courthouse is located at 207 S. Sonoma Trail in Ennis. The reception is open for the public to attend.
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