Woodford’s dedication to minor hockey spanned decades.
During his funeral service at the Salvation Army Citadel on Nov. 21, Hazel Rideout brought condolences to the Woodford family on behalf of the Lewisporte and Area Minor Hockey Association.
Rideout shared those comments with The Pilot.
No matter how early the game was, or how cold the rink was, Ple could be counted on to be there, volunteering his time for hours on end,” she said.
Woodford was a staple in the stadium — a timekeeper, a game announcer, a referee, and a friend to hockey players, coaches, trainers, managers and officials.
In the timekeeper’s box, Woodford kept tournaments on track, Rideout said, while calming down players who were headed to the penalty box.
Lewisporte and Area Minor Hockey Association president Greg Feltham knows how it feels to head to the penalty box where Woodford would be waiting.
“I can remember, as a young kid, getting a penalty and being in the box all riled up,” Feltham recalled. “He would be the first one to tell you that you’re not going to help your team by being in here. He’d have a chuckle. Then, you’d go out (on the ice). You’d score a goal and as he would be announcing your name, he’d look at you and give you the thumbs up.”
Feltham speaks of Woodford’s dependability through the years.
He was the first one at the stadium and the last one to leave, he said.
“Sometimes, you didn’t know if enough players were going to show up for a game, but you knew Pleman would be there,” Feltham said. “He was very dedicated and committed, someone you could always count on.”
Feltham said Woodford played an important volunteer role at all levels of hockey.
“He was the one in the penalty box while I played high school hockey and when I played AAA hockey and, in recent years, when I played with the senior (Lewisporte) Seahawks... He was always there, never disgruntled just his happy-go-lucky self,” he said. “He could always be counted on. Just happy to help out.”
Woodford passed his love of the game on to his son, Shawn Woodford, who followed in his father’s footsteps.
“Shawn was always there as well as a referee. Then, (in later years) he was there taking pictures for The Pilot,” Feltham said.
Damian Rideout recalled all the times he saw Woodford sitting in the penalty box eating fries while working the clock – no time between games to go home for a meal.
“Ple’s dedication, passion and legacy will never be forgotten,” he said.
Dexter Rideout got to know Woodford when Rideout became involved with minor hockey in 2001.
Whether refereeing a game or volunteering as timekeeper, Woodford took pride in whatever task he undertook, he said.
“I knew that all would be good with (Pleman) in the penalty box,” Dexter said. “He took pride in all that he did.”
One story reiterated by several people – which highlights just how approachable and well-liked Woodford was to children – was the story of a young boy who came up to him after a game to shake his hand. The boy told Woodford that he was the second best referee he had ever seen. Woodford then asked who the best referee was to which the young boy quipped, “The rest of them.”
It has been said that you make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.
Woodford carved a life surrounded by people in his community – touching countless lives along the way.
“The Seahawks will certainly miss Ple,” Hazel said, “and we know if there's a penalty box in heaven, he will be the first one there, and last one to leave.”
Woodford’s legacy won’t soon be forgotten. Feltham said the Lewisporte and Area Minor Hockey Association will be working with the Town of Lewisporte to place a memorial to Woodford in the penalty box.
Woodford also leaves behind a daughter, Jennifer Woodford, Shawn and Jennifer’s mother Sandra Woodford as well as numerous other family and friends.
Donations in his memory can be made to the Lewisporte and Area Minor Hockey Association.