Community remembers businesswoman

Noted businesswoman Anna Woodbridge.

If things work out as planned, Anna Woodbridge may be driving a new Subaru in heaven while she works on the best real estate deal of her career.

Friends and family last week remembered Woodbridge as a sweet lady, a hard worker, a great Christian and a loving mother and grandmother.

Woodbridge, 89, passed away on Dec. 28. She worked 45 years in real estate, opened the first laundromat in Huntsville, operated the Forum Store and post office, and was the first female member of the Huntsville Kiwanis Club.

Woodbridge’s daughter Sally Witt said her mother fell three years ago and badly hurt a shoulder, which forced Woodbridge into a care facility for a while.

Witt and her younger sister, Susan Courtney of Texas, had taken their mother to a weekly blood transfusion last week in Fayetteville. Witt said her mother was unable to have the transfusion so an appointment was made for the following Monday.

On the way back to Huntsville, however, Woodbridge became ill and was taken to an emergency room in Fayetteville. She died early the next morning.

“My sister from Texas is here and it was a grand day because you know we were all taking her [mother] to her doctor’s appointment. We didn’t know. We knew her time was short, but not that short,” Witt said.

“She kept talking about getting a new Subaru car and showing places and she had dreams about selling places and of course some people would still call her that still had her number. ... She had dreams about real estate.

“Maybe she’ll get a new Subaru in heaven. She was a character. Just about anybody could probably tell you a story on mamma.”

Witt said that Woodbridge as grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother was “awesome, very awesome.”

Woodbridge was born Sept. 5, 1930, in Treat, Ark., the daughter of Andrew Jackson and Ollie Terry Ross.

She graduated from Pottsville High School in 1948.  In 1955, she met and married Mark Otis Woodbridge. They moved to their farm home in Alabam.

“Mother loved being in the spotlight. She loved the Kiwanis, senior citizens center, they went there and ate every day until daddy died and then she just didn’t want to go back to the center.”

Anna Woodbridge in 1988 became the first woman to join the Huntsville Kiwanis, a club that just a year before voted to invite women into the club. In 2001 she was named Kiwanis of the Year.

Woodbridge also was a member of the American legion Ladies Auxiliary at Hayes-Smith Post 137.

Patti Cline, office manager at Madison County Water Facilities Board and a member of the Huntsville Kiwanis Club, said Woodbridge “recruited many members in her tenure in the club.”

Mark Woodbridge died in 2014.

“She was still driving and showing places at 86 going on 87 and we were trying so hard to get her to quit, but she wouldn’t even consider it,” Witt said.

Witt said she retired to help care for her mother in recent years.

“She still talked about getting a new Subaru and she’d say we took all her privileges away ... but she definitely loved that career,” Witt said.

Witt said her mother, especially, loved her church.

“She truly and dearly loved going to church and was really religious and portrayed that in her everyday life,” Witt said. “She was friendly even when people did her wrong. She would just, she’d turn the other cheek. ... She held no grudges. Sometimes it was really infuriating. She was raised Pentecostal and she just loved going to church.”

For the past few years, Woodbridge was a member of the Forum Assembly of God, where Jack Graham is the pastor. Graham said he was asked five years ago to preach at the church because the previous pastor had resigned. That’s when he met Woodbridge.

“I looked up sweet in the dictionary and I was surprised her name wasn’t there. She was a sweet lady, a great Christian,” Graham said last week.

“She was notoriously late for about five minutes, but she was such a great inspiration to me as a pastor and to the rest of the congregation, she was well loved. Greatly missed by all of us. She was just a great woman,” he said.

Graham said Woodbridge told him when they met that, “‘I believe this is where I’m supposed to be,’ then she told me, she said, ‘I think this is where you need to be.’ And it turned out that way.”

Graham said, “She had been a Christian a long, long time. She had went to other churches,” before joining the Forum church.

“I’d heard of her but I never had met her,” he said. “She loved her job selling real estate. She thought the world of her daughters and her grandchildren.”

Graham said he visited with Woodbridge around Christmas, when she had a message for him.

She said, “‘You know what I think I need to do? I need to start going back to school and get my real estate license back.’ I didn’t want to laugh on the outside but I sure laughed on the inside.”

Graham said that at Woodbridge’s retirement party in 2017, people lined up out the door to greet her.

“If you were wanting a piece of property around Huntsville, around Madison County, she knew about anything about what you were hunting,” Graham said.

“She was a great addition to our church. Everybody from the ones there for a long, long time to barely knew her just loved her,” he said.

Woodbridge is survived by three daughters, Marquita Kendrick, Sally Witt and Susan Courtney. She had seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Woodbridge in 1972 went to work as a secretary for Mill Creek Real Estate out of Melbourne. She obtained her real estate license on Aug. 8, 1972.

After Mill Creek closed, Woodbridge took a job with Heart of the Ozarks Real Estate in Eureka Springs and later worked for Pioneer Real Estate in Huntsville. In 1980, she left Pioneer Real Estate and she and Larry Montgomery bought a property in Alabam and opened shop together.

In 1980, Woodbridge got her broker’s license, and Montgomery offered to let her buy him out.

That’s when she opened Anna Woodbridge Realty.

Woodbridge 15 years later went into business with her daughter Sally and Sally’s husband, Rick Witt.

Rick Witt bought out Woodbridge’s part in the business in 1995 and he and Woodbridge continued to work together. In 2000 Witt obtained his broker’s license and moved the business to the current location on Polk Square. The business in 2000 was changed to Witt and Woodbridge Realty.

Cline said Woodbridge certainly was a pioneer.

“I know she was the first female in the Huntsville Kiwanis. She was very active all the time when she was there,” Cline said last week.

“She hated it so when she was sick and that she couldn’t attend. She was always very active and very passionate when she was in Kiwanis.”

Cline called Woodbridge a “very sweet lady” and a woman who opened doors at the Kiwanis.

“Very much so. We said she was a pioneer because now our club is probably half women,” Cline said.

“Just up until the last couple of years. Anna hasn’t been a member for about the last three years, when her health started going and she couldn’t drive to get there and she felt like she was missing so many meetings and she did not want to be a member unless she could attend and participate.”

Tom Wiles has been in Kiwanis since 1992.

“She was active on until later years. She had to cut back, but she was active for a long time,” Wiles said.

“Kiwanis had been a men’s organization forever and suddenly they realized, ‘hey, we need the women, too.’”

Wiles opened That Little Pizza Place in 1987 in Huntsville.

“I got to know them as customers here in the pizza place, then their place (farm) became available for lease and that’s been probably 18 years ago that I’ve been leasing their farm, so I kind of got to know Mark and Anna and their kids,” he said.

“She was a real person. What you saw was Anna, no fake. She was always real and she cared a lot about her family and her friends. She just loved being with family and friends. That meant a lot to her.”

Wiles said some of Woodbridge’s grandchildren have worked for him at the pizza place. He said the restaurant is where he first met Woodbridge.

“Back when nobody had cellphones and she was in real estate and people would call the restaurant looking for Anna and we would have to go out to her table and tell her she had a phone call,” he said with a laugh.

“She was a worker. I’m sure she would have loved to have kept going,” he said.

Woodbridge’s daughter Sally said her parents spent a lot of time together in their later years.

“She went to town every day, her and daddy, that was their life after they got older. My mom was still selling real estate but we had bought the company so she could kind of go as she pleased. She was still working. She might show up at noon or 1 o’clock after lunch, but they came to town every day,” Witt said.

After Woodbridge was injured in the fall, she still resisted calls to retire.

“When she fell and hurt her shoulder real bad she had to quit and we made her retire basically. She never did actually consider herself retired,” Witt said.

Funeral services were held last Saturday in Huntsville.

Memorials may be made in Anna Woodbridge’s name to the Forum First Assembly of God, c/o Jack Graham, 451 Madison 8001, Hindsville, 72738, or the Alabam Cemetery, c/o Brent Owens, P.O. Box 66, Huntsville, 72740.

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