Walter Nelson Woodson, a widely-respected Washington lobbyist who traced his family’s American lineage back to the 1600s, died on Nov. 1. He was 67.
Mr. Woodson, in recent years a Middleburg real estate agent, began his career in the Nation’s Capital as the Legislative Director for Congressman L.H. Fountain of North Carolina. When Fountain decided not to seek re-election in 1983, Mr. Woodson joined the Tobacco Institute, where he rose to the position of Senior Vice President of Public Affairs.
The Tobacco Institute was a U.S. tobacco industry trade group, founded in 1958 by the American tobacco industry. It was dissolved in 1998 as part of the Tobacco Master Settlement agreement.
While at the institute, Mr. Woodson developed the concept of the “We Card.” Now a national non-profit organization, The We Card Program, Inc. serves the nation’s retailers of tobacco, alcohol and other age-restricted products. We Cards are posted to raise awareness of responsible retailing and age verification requirements and to train retail employees to identify and prevent underage attempts to purchase age-restricted products.
Mr. Woodson was born in Salisbury, North Carolina on Feb. 2, 1950, the son of Mary Holt and Nelson Woodson. He graduated from Woodberry Forest School in Orange, Virginia and was a graduate of New York University (NYU) in Manhattan, where he majored in history and political science.
He married the former Alex Waschenko on May 30, 1981 at Christ Church in Alexandria.
The couple lived in Alexandria until 2004, when they moved to Middleburg. Mr. Woodson was an agent for several Middleburg real estate firms and was with Middleburg Real Estate/Atoka Properties at the time of his death.
Mr. Woodson traced his roots back to John Rolfe, one of the early English settlers of North America.
Later in the 1600s, another descendant, Dr. John Woodson, left his wife and children at their home to go off to intercept a group of hostile Native Americans who had attacked nearby. When their home came under attack by another war party, their children were hidden in a potato hole, a “tater hole” as it was called, or under a wash tub.
At family reunions hundreds of years later, Mr. Woodson, who also relished his Southern heritage, always told one and all that he was a “wash tub Woodson.”
A dapper dresser, Mr. Woodson also enjoyed writing and was a voracious reader, belonging to a Middleburg men’s book club that focused primarily on American history. He regularly attended seminars on a wide variety of topics at the Cosmopolitan Club in Washington that were conducted by St. John’s College on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where he also occasionally attended classes.
He enjoyed traveling, spending three years based in Spain in his 20s and exploring many European countries. He and his wife, Alex, and daughter, Mary Kennon, also travelled extensively in Europe, South America, Canada, and New Zealand.
Mr. Woodson was a member of The Society of the Cincinnati, the Jamestown Society, Farmington Country Club and The Middleburg Tennis Club, where he was a daily regular in the club’s workout room.
He is survived by his wife, Alex; a daughter, Mary Kennon Caithness Woodson of Atlanta; a sister, Mary Holt Murphy of Greenville, S.C.; a niece, Mary Holt Mitchell, and a nephew, Gunn Murphy, both from Greenville.
A funeral service will be held Monday, Nov. 13 at 11 a.m. at Trinity Church in Upperville.