There were few tears among the mourners, both plain folk and celebrities, at Bright Hope Baptist Church in a ceremony that was more a celebration than a somber vigil.
They recalled the storied life of George Washington Woods, 78, an acclaimed DJ on WDAS-AM (1480) and WHAT-AM (1340) from the 1950s through the 1980s, who died after apparently suffering a heart attack June 18 at his home in Boynton Beach, Fla.
"The Guy with the Goods inspired a lot of people for a long time," Mayor Street told the gathering, recalling Woods' signature radio style.
"We had Georgie in the background. . . . It was like you were starting every morning with the Guy with the Goods," Street said.
Street recalled Woods' work in the civil-rights movement of the 1960s and '70s with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his triumphant collaboration with Moore to end segregation at Girard College.
Woods provided "as loud a commentary as we needed to have," Street said.
Among the mourners were singer Teddy Pendergrass, basketball legend Sonny Hill, record producer and businessman Kenny Gamble, Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson, and many Philadelphia radio personalities.
Condolences from Gov. Rendell and an array of political leaders and community activists were read.
Woods, a native of Georgia who came to Philadelphia to work at WHAT in 1953 after a stint in New York, was recalled as a music pioneer and civic activist with a resounding voice throughout the black community.
His obituary highlighted his work in bringing artists such as Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Jerry Butler, the Jackson Five, and others to youthful audiences at North Philadelphia's Uptown Theater at prices almost anyone could afford.
A funeral program in the design of an old 45 r.p.m. record and a CD produced by Gamble, featuring Woods' classic R&B radio shows, were given to all inside the church. A video tribute featured remarks from Dick Clark of American Bandstand fame and Ed Bradley of CBS's 60 Minutes.
Clark said, "When I wanted to know about black music, I called my friend Georgie Woods. . . . He will always be a friend of mine."
Gamble, known for developing the "Sound of Philadelphia" in the '60s and '70s with partner Leon Huff, said Woods "was a great inspiration to me."
Gamble said Woods took him under his wing as a young man, often sending Gamble out to get Woods' favorite sandwich, "liverwurst with mustard and onion on rye bread."
He recalled Woods' airing records Gamble produced, telling his audience, "It's so nice, I'm going to play it twice. It's so fine, I have to play it one more time."
WDAS radio host Joe "Butterball" Tamburro told the gathering: "I was working for Hy Lit, but I loved listening to Georgie Woods."
Tamburro said Woods, who was known for discussing key issues of the black community on the air, once told him: "It ain't all about playing records."
Noting that streets in Philadelphia are named for Moore and King, Tamburro said he would immediately begin an effort to have one named for Woods.
The Rev. William H. Gray 3d, who delivered the eulogy, recalled going to house parties as a teen "down in the basement with the blue light on . . . and the next day, Georgie would play that same music."
Gray said, "There was another Georgie Woods, a more insightful Georgie Woods - the Georgie Woods who went to Vietnam" to bring R&B to black troops.
He added that "Georgie was one of the few superstars willing to risk his reputation for the civil-rights struggle. . . . None of use would have been there without Georgie Woods."
Woods is survived by his wife, Gilda; his companion, Doris; his children Janet, Lynne, George Jr. and Devin; a brother, Clarence; and numerous relatives. He was buried in Merion Memorial Park in Bala Cynwyd.
Contact staff writer Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.