Peter Woodworth passed away on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, at Sugar Loaf Senior Living in Winona at the age of 71. Pete led a life most would strive for. He packed a lot of living into 71 years. Pete was born in Winona on September 1, 1946, to Les and Dodo Woodworth. Pete grew up on the banks of the Mississippi with his older brother, Pat, and younger sister, Leslie. Growing up Pete was an excellent waterskier and loved to tell stories about ski jumps, bridge jumps, and parasails. Pete attended Winona Senior High School where he developed a passion for wrestling and wrestled in the Minnesota state tournament. Pete went on to wrestle for Cornell University, where he would eventually graduate with a BS in engineering and a Master’s in business. During his time in college Pete served as president of his fraternity and captain of the wrestling team, he also won the university championship in both boxing and judo; however, according to Pete, his greatest accomplishment during his time in college was meeting his beloved wife, Joyce.
After college Pete served for four years in the U.S. Navy as a Lieutenant and Diving Officer aboard the USS Escape. Pete returned to Winona with Joyce where they settled down on a Cedar Valley farm and raised three children. In 1973 Pete went to work making sweaters with his father, brother, aunts, uncles, and cousins in their third-generation family business, the Winona Knitting Mills. Pete worked for the mill for the next 38 years, eventually becoming president. Pete was a voracious worker and was never idle. During his tenure WKM grew in sales from under $5 million in revenue to over $40 million. Unfortunately, with the signing of the NAFTA and GATT agreements in the late ‘90s no amount of hard work could save the U.S. textile factory. The company that once employed as many as 600 locally was forced to shut its doors. This was a very dark time for Pete. Throughout the good times and bad Pete was able to find time to give back to the community. Pete was a legendary fundraiser and served in multiple capacities for the YMCA, Winona Health, United Way, Red Cross, Camp Olson YMCA, Winona History Center, Winona Hims, Rotary, and Winona Port Authority. Most importantly Pete was a focused, attentive, and dutiful husband and father. Pete always made time for soccer tournaments, choir performances, and family dinners. Pete led by example to all who knew him. He was honest, trustworthy, honorable, and professional.
Pete is survived by his wife, Joyce; sons, Nathan (Becky), Jake (Nora); and daughter, Lindsey (Mark). Pete did not have the blessing of spending much quality time with his grandchildren because of a terribly ravaging bout with Lewy Body Dementia; he is also survived by his four grandchildren, Walker, Elsa, Weston, and Silas. Pete loved traditions, Christmas time, skiing, biking, hiking, and spending time outdoors. It is fitting that among the thousands of business files he presided over, there was one poem in a file titled “Life” —
If I had my life to live over,
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax, I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles,
but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I am one of those people who has lived sensibly and sanely,
hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again,
I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.
one after another,
instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
I’ve been one of those people who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle,
a raincoat and a parachute.
If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daises.
By: Nadine Stair
We love you Dad.
A memorial and remembrance service will be at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 28, 2018, at the First Congregational Church, 161 West Broadway, Winona. A visitation will precede the service beginning at 10 a.m., and a celebration of Pete’s legacy will be held at 4 p.m. at Island City Brewery. Memorials can be directed to the Winona YMCA building fund.
Services entrusted to Fawcett Junker Funeral Home and Crematory, Winona, Minn., and Fountain City, Wis.