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Woodie. Woodie Flowers.  A name instantly recognized by FIRST people everywhere. A name that would instantly quiet a crowd when he began to speak. A name that would create an excited fury of activity in the pits when he walked through.

Woodie will always to be a symbol of what is so special about FIRST.  He believed in the power of ideas to change society. He believed that reason, compassion, and wisdom make the world a better place.

Woodie coined the term “Gracious Professionalism” and lived it every day. He made FIRST a place we all wanted to be and made sure FIRST maintained a focus on its mission to inspire youth in a safe and ethically strong place. He was never too busy to stop for a conversation with a student.

Dr. William Murphy created the Woodie Flowers Award to honor Woodie for his powerful communication skills and his effectiveness of inspiring young people in the art and science of engineering and design. For several years, the WFA recipients have had the opportunity to work closely with Woodie, through an annual meeting and regular conversation during the year.  We have discussed issues, innovations and controversies. We have discussed education, ethics and our impact on the wider FIRST community. We have been there to see Woodie be diplomatic and impassioned about important matters. We have seen him challenge the status quo and drive for change.  He has challenged us to push ourselves and our community to address society’s biggest challenges to make the world a better place for all youth.

Like all of you, our hearts are heavy.  We struggled to find words to express our thoughts.  Many of our messages were “the world feels different”, “no words”, “he has changed the world”, “so sad”, “devastated”, “Woodie has such a huge place in our hearts”, and “we will never be able to quantify his impact”.

Woodie’s legacy lives in all the lives he touched and hearts he uplifted – we are all part of his legacy and our personal challenge is to continue to live into his vision.

When one of us was hurting, Woodie would always send “White Light”.  And so now, to you Woodie, we send the Brightest White Light possible.



The Woodie Flowers Award group

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