University remembers Sharon Woods

Sharon WoodsHUNTINGTON, Ind. A 25-year member of the Huntington University community, Sharon Woods passed away today at the age of 48.

Woods came to the university in 1987 as an interim financial aid assistant. That same year, she was named the financial aid director, and she had served in that role ever since.

Woods was a 1986 graduate of Huntington with a Bachelor of Science degree in recreational management. She later went on to earn a master's degree in student personnel administration higher education from Ball State University in 1987.

In her many years of service to Huntington, her work made it possible for all students to have an affordable education at HU. She frequently worked with state and local government officials to ensure that students were receiving the maximum financial benefits. She was also instrumental in gathering information for a program review from the U.S. Department of Education last year from which the university received a "clean bill of health."

"Sharon was a wonderful person, much more like a sister to me than a co-worker. Sharon had a positive influence on so many people primarily because she did not hold back from demonstrating the joy that was within her. She was able to have tough conversations with families about personal financial issues in a way that still honored the Lord and respected them. Her husband Kipp has reminded me over the past week that we should celebrate life when we think of Sharon and I am very sure that Sharon would have that expectation of everyone who knew her. I'm working hard not to let her down," said Jeff Berggren, senior vice president for enrollment management and marketing.

She was actively involved in her church, serving with student ministries as well as on the worship team. She was a self-appointed cheerleader for her three children, Courtney, a senior at HU; Breanna, a freshman at Geneva College; and Adam, a sophomore at Huntington North High School. Her husband, Kipp, is the owner of Kipp's Muffler Shop in Huntington.

While a student at HU, Woods was a varsity athlete and captain of the women's volleyball team. She was a resident assistant which led her to pursue a master's in student personnel. She was also a camp counselor for Union Church for many years.

Woods' dedication to Huntington cannot be measured in numbers, but more by the many individuals that she has influenced over the years.

"Despite her many years of battling Hodgkin's Disease and most recently breast cancer, Sharon was resilient in her fight. She was unwavering in her faith, and her strength through all of her trials was an inspiration to us all. She will truly be missed by the many colleagues, students and families that she encouraged and touched with her tender heart and fervent spirit," said President G. Blair Dowden.

Memories and words of love to Sharon and her family:

I've known Sharon since we were students here together. Her faith, her family and her commitment to our campus family never wavered...even in her own darkest times.

Troy D. Irick
Vice President for Strategy and Innovation

This is sad news indeed. We all know how much she loved Jesus and now she is able to see Him face to face. I will pray for God's peace and comfort for her family.

Dr. Ron Coffey
Vice President for Student Life

It's hard to think of anyone who was more faithful. To her Lord, to her family and to her work with us at HU. She's been a sweet, sweet spirit in this place. And oh, how she will be missed by many.

Ann McPherren
Senior Vice President for Strategy & Graduate/Adult Programs

I'm so glad that Cindy Vezeau and I had the chance to meet with Sharon just last Thursday to discuss this year's endowed scholarship recipients. More importantly was the time we spent praying with Sharon at the end of our meeting. What a testimony of faithful commitment to her faith, family and to HU.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For these light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." 2 Cor. 4:16-17.

Vince Haupert
Vice President for Advancement

I am torn between rejoicing that she is now with her Father in heaven and free of this burden, but I can't help but shed a tear in sadness that she is no longer with us. She really was a wonderful person to work with. I will be praying.

Sandy Hartle
Digital Media Arts Assistant

Sharon has always been very encouraging to me. As I was a young professional 10 years ago she took me under her wing and taught me about higher ed. She always had a hug to give and she leaves us remembering her unending faith in the Lord.

Julie Hendryx
Interim Vice President for Business & Finance

Having known Sharon and the Woods family has made our lives richer. Barbara and I share in the grief and hurt for the family and community.

Dr. Paul "Papa" Fetters
Emeritus Professor of Practical Theology

A few years ago, when my oldest son was a senior in college, our family began wandering through the byzantine world of FAFSAs and other financial aid forms. I had been teaching at HU for over a decade that point, and I found myself surprised (and embarrassed) by how little I knew of that part of the college experience. One night, there was a seminar of sorts at the high school for the parents of college-bound students. I decided I'd better go and learn something about how things worked. When I arrived in the cafeteria, there was our own Sharon Woods running the show. I knew Sharon from our campus, but I'd never really seen her "at work" before. There she was, explaining quickly and clearly how everything worked. She gave a great presentation full of sympathy and good plain English. By the time I left the high school that evening, I could confidently explain the whole financial aid process to my wife or any other parent who wanted to know the deal, and I was not the only one. I was grateful for Sharon's expertise, and proud that my HU colleague was so obviously awesome to everyone.

Dr. Del Doughty
Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Sharon Woods truly lived life abundantly (John 10:10). She understood the true meaning of joy as evidenced by her constant smile no matter the circumstances. Sharon loved people with her whole heart. She devoted herself to lifting others in prayer and encouraging them with the Scriptures. Sharon tirelessly and selflessly poured herself into her job, clearly viewing it as a ministry to students and their families. Her unrelenting faith gave hope to so many and continues to do so. Without question, Sharon lived to glorify the Lord in all areas of her life.

Heather Barkley
Coordinator for Graduate and Adult Program Marketing

Sharon Woods has been my dear friend and colleague since I came to work at HU in 1989. Because of our respective positions at HU, we either talked to each other on the phone or sent email messages numerous times throughout the day as we tried to find ways to financially assist our students. To better serve our students and families, we worked together to forge a strong team between the financial aid office and the business office. I was often amazed by Sharon's strength and her unwavering faith in her Creator and Sustainer through all of her health issues. When I think about Sharon, this passage comes to mind: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven," Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV). Sharon was a beacon of light. Many were drawn to her God-given joyful personality. I miss my friend, Sharon. I miss her laughter and her smile. I miss hearing her say, "Thank you ma'am" when I did something for her or "Ab-so-lutely!" when I asked her for some help. Sharon is one of my treasures in heaven. When I finish my journey here on earth, I'll see her on the other side where I know she will be waiting to give me a hug. Thanks be to God for sending Sharon Woods to our HU campus. She was a gift from God to all who knew and loved her. Well done, good and faithful servant!

Shelia Hacker
Assistant Director of Financial Services

Sharon Woods was a student in one of my classes not long after I came to HU almost 30 years ago. I clearly remember the way she stood out among her classmates in her beautiful spirit and attitude. Sharon also helped me through the FAFSA process last spring as well as the financial aid process -- even though our twins are going to Calvin and Cornerstone, respectively. May son is a physics major, which is not available at Huntington, and the twins are very close & wanted to be near each other. My husband still works in Michigan & commutes; so it makes most sense for us just to move to Michigan. Throughout the years, I have always been inspired and humbled by her steadfast Christian life example, complete trust in the Lord, inner strength, and positive outlook -- despite the multiple health issues she faced. May her family find great peace, comfort, and hope in the Lord for the days ahead.

Patricia Spedden
Emeritus Professor of Music

Very few people come into your life and have an impact on all that you are. Sharon challenged me to be a better husband, father, coach, and believer. I did not see her as often over the past couple of years after my move to the athletic office, but for over 20 years, we were very close and had countless conversations about our lives. She helped me work through difficult times with things going in the personal life of my life. I hope that those of us in the admissions office helped her through some of her difficult times, as well.

Very simply, in a loving, humble and natural way she pointed everyone that she came in contact with toward Jesus. Isn't that what being a believer is all about? She was constantly in tune with God's leading in sharing with those she came in contact with. It was very apparent that she loved the Lord with all her heart. I know she loved her family immensely, but she really looked forward to seeing Jesus someday. I wish I could have been there to see the look on her face the first time she saw Him in heaven.

I want to live more like she did.

Mike Frame
Head Baseball Coach
Associate Athletic Director

Sharon was a shining light in everything she did. She was always willing to help me even when she was too busy herself. I will never forget that. Sharon was an inspiration to everyone she met -- from her smile to her (occasional) pink hair she wore with pride. She will be missed.

Ashley Smith
Associate Director for Media Relations