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Preservationist Edith deJongh Woods Dead at 76

Aug. 13, 2005 –– Preservationist and historian Edith deJongh Woods died early Saturday at Roy L. Schneider Hospital. She was 76.
Her son, John Woods, said she suffered for many years from a heart condition related to diabetes.
In fact Edith deJongh Woods had written to the Source in July, after suffering a heart attack, to commend the hospital and others who helped her during her "ordeal. "
Woods will long be remembered for her contributions to historic preservation in Charlotte Amalie. She was a member of the St. Thomas Historical Trust and had served as chairman of the V.I. Historic Preservation Commission.
"This town owes her a great deal of thanks," fellow historic preservationist Felipe Ayala said.
Her son, John Woods, said that his mother helped push through a regulation that eliminated the waiving of parking regulations for Charlotte Amalie building owners who wanted to expand their buildings. This helped to preserve the town's character.
Philip Sturm, another historic preservationist, said that Woods was outspoken when it came to her views on preservation.
"And the end, she was completely right in what she said," Sturm said.
He said hopes that someone comes along to "pick up the banner" of preservation held so long by Woods.
Woods started out as an art teacher and the director of art programs at Charlotte Amalie High School. John Woods said she worked there for 32 years.
In 1989, Mapes Monde published her book, "Three Quarters of the Town of Charlotte Amalie," a book about the town's buildings constructed before the 1837 survey done by the Danish government.
"The book has become very popular for people interested in historic preservation," her son said.
He said that Woods was born on St. Thomas to Percy and Laurencia deJongh. She graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School in 1946. She then headed off to study in Puerto Rico before studying art at Boston University. She graduated from college in 1953.
John Woods said she helped to launch St. Thomas Carnival in 1952, and did costume design for the Gypsy Troupe in the 1950s and 1960s.
Woods is survived by her husband, John as well as sons John and Fred and daughter Julie Dukes, all on St. Thomas. She also has a son, Robert, in Jacksonville, Fla.
She is also survived by two brothers, James deJongh of New York City and Robert deJongh of St. Thomas. She was predeceased by her brother John P. deJongh Sr.
John Woods, a St. Thomas architect, said he got his artistic bent from his mother.
"But I always felt her greatest strength was as a teacher," he said.
Ronnie Lockhart, who served with Woods on the St. Thomas Historical Trust, said she was always the person he turned to for information.
"We had a meeting this week without her and there was a difference," he said.
Ayala said he learned much from Woods, who helped him develop his library.
He and Woods worked on an inventory of Charlotte Amalie's historical buildings with the hope that they would be included in the V.I. Registry of Historic Buildings.
And Ayala said they met every Wednesday to tour historic buildings and visit various sites in the midst of being preserved.
"It was always a preservation adventure," Ayala said.
He said after their tour, they'd go to the library and the Recorder of Deeds Office before heading to the Fruit Bowl and to pick up a copy of "People" magazine. He said Woods was a great fan of the magazine, and followed closely the antics of Hollywood stars like "Bennifer," the formerly engaged couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.
"We'd laugh all the way home," Ayala said.
John Woods said funeral arrangements are pending.

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