One-time Arlington Heights first lady remembered as husband's 'common-sense adviser'

A one-time first lady of Arlington Heights is being remembered as the supportive presence in her husband's many community and civic roles during a time of tremendous growth in the village.

Mary Lee Woods, widow of former Village President John G. Woods, died Monday at The Landing on Dundee in Wheeling. The longtime Arlington Heights resident was 94.

John Woods, who was mayor from 1961 to 1969 and during an appointed interim term from 1972 to 1973, died at 81 in 2003.

Mary Woods, a homemaker and mother of five, accompanied her husband to many functions during his mayoral tenure and in his ensuing years of service on nonprofit and corporate boards. That included the board of directors of Paddock Publications - publisher of the Daily Herald - from 1977 until his death.

"Mary was always at John's side, and they were so different," said Doug Ray, Paddock's chief executive officer and chairman/publisher. "John was a hard-driving leader, very direct and in many ways a dominant figure. She balanced that with her unassuming and always calm demeanor. She was a classic political spouse, a common-sense adviser."

Daniel Baumann, the one-time Paddock chairman emeritus, board chairman and company executive, remembered Mary Woods as her husband's quiet supporter, always ready and solidly behind him in his many roles.

"She was always a very kind and supportive person, and ready to extend friendship to all of John's associates," Baumann said.

The couple arrived in Arlington Heights in the 1950s, when fewer than 30,000 people lived in town. By the end of John Woods' two elected terms, the population had more than doubled.

They stayed in town in the ensuing years, as John was vice president and general counsel for Universal Oil Products Co. in nearby Des Plaines.

Mary was described in her Glueckert Funeral Home obituary as a gracious hostess who loved entertaining family and friends. She enjoyed decorating her home, ceramics, cooking, shopping, playing cards, tennis and traveling.

Visitation is scheduled from 10 a.m. until the time of a funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of the Wayside Catholic Church in Arlington Heights. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Alzheimer's Association Illinois Chapter.

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