Trooper Woods molded careers, leaves legacy of kindness

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Nothing in recent memory has shocked or saddened this writer more than the news of the death of retired North Carolina State Trooper Kevin Patrick Woods. The outpouring of grief, love and support from local law enforcement — and many throughout the community not affiliated with law enforcement — via social media and other venues toward Kevin, his wife Trish and son Jake, has been overwhelming.

Although we served together on the Highway Patrol for a period of time in Wilson County, I cannot claim a close friendship with Trooper Woods. Yet Kevin always greeted this writer with an ever-present smile, exuding a warm and genuine friendliness which suggested otherwise. In fact, the encouragement received from Trooper Woods was perhaps the reason I joined ranks with him as a North Carolina state trooper.

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in the early ‘90s when this writer met Trooper Woods in his official capacity. I was in forward motion in my 1992 Ford Mustang without having the provided seat safety belt properly fastened about the defendant’s body. And yes, I was issued a citation. However, that was not the end of the story, merely the beginning — an inauspicious one about which the two of us frequently joked.

For no apparent reason, Trooper Woods took an interest in me during that Sunday afternoon traffic stop. When informed of my desire to become a state trooper, Woods went out of his way to assist me by suggesting I follow him to the Highway Patrol office whereupon entering the facility I was promptly introduced to one of his sergeants.

I remember Kevin saying, “Sarge, this is a good guy. We need him on the Patrol.”

Now, I may not have been a “good guy,” but Kevin built me up. That was the beginning of my journey toward becoming a state trooper. It was Kevin Woods who laid the foundation and throughout the process continually added encouragement to the structure.

To Trish, and to Jake whom I’ve never met, we offer our condolences and support. We cannot comprehend your grief, but know we do share it to the extent we are able.

Kevin was helpful to me prior to my becoming a trooper, affable during my tenure as a trooper and welcoming after my departure from the Highway Patrol when I was no longer on the team. In summary, Trooper K.P. Woods was all right by me.

Thank you, C538. You will be missed.

David D. Whitley