Anthony P. Woods, 76, private contractor, artist and dedicated traveler

Posted: January 08, 2014

IF THERE WAS something that Tony Woods wasn't into, it probably wasn't worth bothering with.

Tony was an exceptional handyman who could fix anything. He did plumbing, electricity, painting, drywall, carpentry, TV, electronics - you name it.

Tony was an excellent artist, a painter of landscapes and still lifes treasured by family and friends, and a sculptor working in wood that he wrested from the forests of Fairmount Park.

Tony was a writer who published pieces on the Tuskegee Airmen, the Buffalo Soldiers and other subjects in the Philadelphia New Observer.

Tony was a jazz fan who not only attended performances but introduced himself to the musicians and got to know them.

Tony took a U.S. Coast Guard course on piloting a boat, even though he didn't have a boat.

Tony learned to export needed goods to Africa after taking a course at Temple University.

Tony was an inveterate traveler who took summer trips to Europe, the Caribbean and sites in the U.S.

Tony was a church trustee and a devoted family man who indulged his three children and sent them off to earn multiple college degrees.

Anthony P. Woods, who also was an Air Force veteran and onetime Yellow Cab driver, died Dec. 25 of an aneurysm. He was 76 and lived in LaMott, Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County.

"He used to work seven days a week," said Martha Brace Woods, his wife of 51 years. "I had to make him stop. I told him I'd be a widow and have to take care of these little children by myself. So he cut back to six days."

One day while the couple were vacationing in the Bahamas, Tony approached the owner of a yacht and told him, "My name is Tony and I can pilot a boat," his wife said. "The man said, 'You're my new captain,' and let him take the boat out. I sat there watching."

"He just wanted to pilot a boat, so he took a course to learn to do it," his wife added. "He did what he enjoyed."

His art, for instance, was just something he enjoyed doing. He didn't think about exhibiting or selling his work.

One day he dragged in a tree trunk from Fairmount Park, stripped off the bark and carved a man's face in it.

Tony was born in Philadelphia to Ellen Louise Woods and Louis J. Draper. His parents died when he was a child and he was raised by grandparents and other relatives.

He graduated from Simon Gratz High School and entered the Air Force. He served stateside as an air policeman.

After his discharge, he worked for a time as a silk-screen printer and cabdriver before attending the Philadelphia Wireless Technical Institute. He learned to install antennas in apartments and high-rises around the city.

He eventually opened his own shop in West Oak Lane, and soon his expertise was in demand.

His wife is a retired public-school nurse.

"Tony could remodel a room and make it beautiful," she said. "He was a genius."

Tony was an active member of LaMott African Methodist Episcopal Church, where he was a trustee, sang on the male chorus and was a member of the church school.

Besides his wife, he is survived by a son, Askia Muhammad Sheikh; two daughters, Andrea E. Woods Valdes and Patrice L. Woods; and one grandson.

Services: Memorial service 11 a.m. Jan. 17 at LaMott AME Church, 1505 W. Cheltenham Ave., Cheltenham.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Lamp For Haiti -

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