Everybody knew Hawk. And everybody loved him.
James “Hawk” Woodson died Aug. 31, family members said. He was 85 years old.
Hawk was “Mr. Riverhead” — someone who always seemed to be everywhere. Hawk’s wiry frame was always in motion.
He was a longtime manager and coach in the Riverhead women’s softball league at Stotzky Park, where he raised the money to purchase the park’s first electric scoreboard in 1987. He worked for a time as a recreation aide in the Riverhead Recreation Department and then worked for town’s buildings and grounds division. Hawk worked a total of 13 years for the town, he told RiverheadLOCAL in a 2018 interview. He also worked at an Esso gas station on Peconic Avenue (the Peconic Paddler location) and then ran his own station, a Sinclair station, near Wildwood Lanes. Later, he worked at Apple Chevrolet in Riverhead.
The lifelong Riverhead resident was born on July 3, 1936, one of 10 children born to Armstead and Louise Woodson. His given name was James, but he was known as Hawk since at least his high school days. He was a member of the Riverhead High School Class of 1955. According to the Blue Peconic yearbook, he was a member of the Audio-Visual Club and Math Club.
Word of Hawk’s passing last Monday began circulating on social media yesterday, when one of his nieces posted the news on Facebook. Afterward, RiverheadLOCAL’s Remembering Riverhead Facebook group was flooded with hundreds of comments by people sharing memories of Hawk — former players on the Allied Optical softball team he managed, former classmates, coworkers, customers, neighbors and people he interacted with, and touched, at local delis, restaurants and shops.
Many called him “Mr. Riverhead” and a “Riverhead icon.” He was remembered for his easy smile and pleasant personality, someone who “always had a kind word for everybody.” He was also remembered for his signature Rambler
“He was a sweet, giving man,” said Shepard Scheinberg, who was also a member of the Class of 1955.
“Hawk came from an old Riverhead family. His grandfather started the Woodson taxi company,” Scheinberg wrote.
“A very kind, happy, honest man who made Riverhead a better place in many ways,” Jill Folk Hastings wrote.
“One of the nicest guys I’ve ever known,” wrote Edward Raffel. “Every time he saw me, hello Raf. He’d sit with you, have coffee. Fill you in on what’s happening. RIP Hawk. God speed,” Raffel wrote.
“It seems like Hawk was one person everyone in town knew and he knew us all. We have great memories of you, Hawk. Heaven has acquired a new angel,“ wrote Linda Gatz.
“Riverhead has had its share of luminaries but few were as wonderfully warm, bright and illustrious as Hawk Woodson,” wrote D.J. Caulfield.
“He was the best of Riverhead, a kind, wonderful person who left this world a better place because of his presence,” wrote former Councilman Vic Prusinowski, who served on the town board when Hawk worked for the town. “He loved this town and will be missed but never be forgotten because of the lifetime of memories we will have to honor and remember him by. RIP Hawk.”
Arrangements have not yet been finalized, said Karen Heppner at McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home.
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