Appreciating Ken Woodley

Published 3:49 pm Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Anyone who knows Ken Woodley knows the former editor of The Farmville Herald is a prolific writer. How prolific? If we figure four stories every week, he has hammered out 208 a year, which calculates to 7,488 in his 36 years. Wow. Add in his column Rafterthoughts—and we’re going to give an educated guess here—that’s about another 1,000 pieces of writing.

Plus two editorials every week for 25 years, that’s another 2,600.

Add it all together and you get—well a lot of nouns, verbs and adjectives.

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The wise man at the office at the end of the newsroom hall once told me that a creative thought is a gift from God. The sheer volume alone details just how blessed he has been.

Last Friday was Woodley’s last day at The Farmville Herald. By anyone’s standard, he has had an incredible run. He has witnessed history, recorded history, and helped shape history by blowing the breath of printed words into the sails of a community that needed direction.

Not everyone has agreed with his editorials, but he makes thinking people think, while bringing passion and heart to whatever he touches. The printed word is the closest thing this side of heaven to something eternal. The light of his words will beam as long as there is time.

He has been a leader by example, a man of integrity, an encourager to budding journalists. And he has preached teamwork, recognizing all of those who play a part in making this beautiful thing we call a newspaper come together twice a week. He has been the consummate team captain and an integral part of this family.

Woodley plans to write a book, A Balm In Gilead: The Brown v Board of Education Scholarship Crusade. The scholarship program, approved by Virginia’s General Assembly, provided scholarships for those locked out of school during massive resistance. He has been at the forefront of this community’s efforts to deal with its dark past and, while he often deflects credit, the state-funded scholarship plan sprouted life in his corner office and his encouraging words engaged others to share in the vision.

We have no doubt his book will be wonderfully written, but that it will also inspire.

I have been privileged to share the same office with Woodley for nearly 27 years. He has been a wonderful mentor and friend and, in my opinion, is one of the best writers to ever sit in an editor’s seat. It has been an honor to have worked with him.

He will be missed.

Rob Chapman is a staff writer for The Farmville Herald. His email address is