SKANEATELES NY Jan 30 2017 — As he prepared to read a proclamation celebrating Clint Woodford's 90th birthday, Skaneateles Village Mayor Marty Hubbard mistakenly wished the village crossing guard a happy 80th birthday.
"It's genuinely an honor to salute you and recognize your 90th birthday," Hubbard said correcting himself. "It's genuinely an honor."
But, one couldn't fault the mayor too much for turning the crossing guard's age back 10 years. As Woodford's three children can attest, with a smile on his face and a spring in his step their father helps students safely walk to and from school with the vim and vigor of someone much younger than 90.
After shepherding children across the street from his station at the corner of State and East Elizabeth streets in the village to start their school day Friday morning, Woodford headed to Skaneateles Village Hall with fellow crossing guard Jim Brown for a gathering to mark the milestone occasion.
He was greeted by Hubbard, Village Clerk Patty Couch and other village hall staff and Police Chief Dan Coon and some of the department's officers, as well as his three children — daughters Janice Woodford and Joanne Hunt and son Clint Woodford.
"It's only a number," Woodford said as he returned the greetings and someone asked how it felt to turn 90. "Sometimes I feel 190."
As Woodford declared that he was ready to sit down and took a chair at the board table with a cup of coffee and a doughnut, Hubbard presented him with a card signed village staff that included a proclamation the village Board of Trustees adopted in his honor at its meeting the night before.
The proclamation states that Woodford began his career as a crossing guard for the village in 2007 at the age of 80.
"His unwavering commitment to being at the corner of State and East Elizabeth streets, twice a day during the school day, has provided parents peace of mind knowing that he will be there to watch over and guide their children," Hubbard said, reading the proclamation. "His pleasant and cheerful demeanor comes genuinely from the heart. ... He remains active, energetic and upbeat."
As they awaited their father, Janice, Joanne and Clint — who all still live in Skaneateles and remain close to their father — talked about the man they have known their whole lives and what he has meant to them and his community.
"He's contributed a lot to the village through the years, so it's nice to see him recognized," Clint said.
Joanne said she plans to nominate their father for the Onondaga County Senior Citizen of the Year award, and if he wins, he gets to attend celebrations in Syracuse and Albany.
"He's been very dedicated to the job, and he loves the kids," Janice said. "The students just love him, and he loves the students."
Janice said Woodford became a crossing guard after their mother died and he needed something to do to take up his time, so he decided to take the job that has now turned into 10 years of service.
And it's an appreciated service: At Christmastime, Clint said, the students bring Woodford small gifts, and Joanne said one gave him a candy bar for his birthday.
But, being a crossing guard isn't the only thing Woodford does to stay active. Clint said he works as an escort for Laker Limo and used to drive the bus until a couple of years ago. He also ushers at St. James' Episcopal Church and is involved in the Skaneateles Masonic Lodge.
"He's got a good sense of humor," Joanne said. "He's very family orientated."
As well as serving his community, Woodford served his country during World War II. Joanne said he served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Los Angeles destroyer, and his daughters accompanied to destroyer reunion in Las Vegas.
Clint traveled with their father to Washington, D.C. when Wolford participated in an Honor Flight mission to recognize World War II veterans.
"It's nice because you get down there and you walk around the memorial," Clint said. "These people just come up to him and shake his hand and say, 'Thank you for serving,' just people out of nowhere."
Joanne and Janice said they tell their father how lucky he is and how blessed they are to have him as active as he is at his age.
"He's very, very active," Janice said. "He does not feel his age."
"For 90 years old, he's pretty good," Joanne said.