The owner and operator of Lynchburg’s Metropolitan Transit Authority is a man who loves his work. Woodye Bedford is a tall, lanky Santa Claus look-alike. His parents and brother lived in the frame house next to the Moore County Library when he was born. Although his brother’s health required that the family move to Key West, Fla., when Woodye was starting 3rd grade, his summers were spent on his uncle’s farm in Mulberry.
With typical humor, Woodye claims that his mother shouted for joy when he was handed his high school diploma, relieved that he was not pulled out of line at the last minute. After attempts at junior college, Woodye decided that the academic world was not for him. He joined the United States Navy and boarded the bus for Miami on Christmas Day, 1968.
Four years and a wife and child later, Woodye was discharged from the Navy on Nov. 30, 1972. He joined the Coast Guard the next day. The Coast Guard and Woodye were a good fit. He was immediately assigned for two years to a 95-foot cutter docked in his hometown of West Palm Beach, with the rank of Gunners Mate.
His duty, however, was to be “Under Way Officer of the Deck,” which means that he was responsible for navigating the ship. This required hands-on, on-the-job training. Woodye preferred this responsible assignment with a purpose, to the Navy’s drills and war games.
As Woodye explains, the Coast Guard, the smallest branch of the military, is the branch of Federal law enforcement that keeps the waters around America safe and legal. They are under the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard can board a foreign ship without it being declared an act of war. During a time of war, the Coast Guard goes under the command of the Navy.
Woodye had a number of assignments lasting from 14 months to 4 years In Florida, Maine, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Virginia, Washington, DC, and California. After 27 years and 11 months total military service, he decided it was no longer “fun,” and Tennessee was calling.
Woodye inherited the McClain Farms on Booneville Rd. in Mulberry, which has been in his family since the early 1800s. He now owns 234 acres where he and a partner run a Charolais cow/calf operation. The only crop he grows is hay. Woodye made himself two promises when he retired: “I’m not growing anything that grows in rows,” and “I’m not milking.”
About 1999, Woodye started helping Candy Richard with her Horse & Buggy Tours, which eventually became his. He has three “Neapolitan” horses: Duke, a chocolate English Shire; Belle, a vanilla Belgian; Honey, a strawberry blonde Belgian. His large trailer allows him to haul horse and buggy to various town festivals.
Although Woodye “would rather attend a shooting match with a baseball bat than write a complete sentence,” he can spin a fine tale. Lynchburg Buggy Tours allows him to share his extensive knowledge of Moore County history with the tourists who take a ride. He relates that as much as visitors are interested in historical sites, they are equally interested in what it is like to live in this friendly small town.
Woodye’s love of Lynchburg and dedication to its economic success, earned him the job of President of the Metropolitan Lynchburg/Moore County Chamber of Commerce for the last 4 years. He has also proudly represented Moore County on the Board of the South Central Tennessee Tourist Agency.
He’s on a first-name basis with people in the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. Under his leadership, the Chamber is financially solvent. The Chamber website, with Sara Hope as web master, has sold Lynchburg as a desirable tourist destination.
Woodye says he’s now ready for someone else to step-up. He would like to spend more time visiting his married daughter, granddaughter, and married son who live in Virginia.
Although it’s a big load to carry with his other responsibilities, Woodye is Worshipful Master of the Masonic Lodge this year and teaches Sunday school at Mulberry United Methodist Church. He is, however, guided by the philosophy that all of us who have received much, need to do a lot of giving back. Lynchburg is fortunate to be his recipient.
June Pugh is an award-winning writer whose More About Moore column appears in The Moore County News every other week. She may be reached at <email@example.com>.