John Woodford

Obituary of John Woodford

The family of John Ray Woodford have the hard task of announcing his death on December 25, 2023, at the age of 67. Beloved Husband of Lori (née Dekruyf). Loving father of Lianne (Natasha) Philippe and Kelly Woodford. Cherished grandfather of Everett Philippe and Mackenzie Ray Philippe. John will always be in the hearts of; his sister Joylene Knapp and brothers Paul, Timothy, James and Peter. John will be dearly missed by; his mother-in-law Joan Dekruyf, his aunt-in-law Janet Ottman, his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Brian and Lisa Dayus, as well as his nephews and niece James, Jon and Sarah Dayus. John was predeceased by his parents Perry Woodford and Ruby Woodford, brother David Woodford, father-in-law John Dekruyf and uncle-in-law Royal Ottman.

WELLAND FUNERAL HOME, CREMATION AND RECEPTION CENTRE have had the honour of caring for John and his family. Cremation has taken place. A private family interment will be held. A Celebration of Life for John will be hosted in the summer of 2024, at his favourite place, Lake Belwood. Details will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, John had asked that donations to The Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga be made in his honour.


John Ray Woodford was born in Newberry Michigan on Wednesday, October 17, 1956, to parents Perry and Ruby Woodford. He arrived alongside his twin sister, Joylene (Knapp) and joined his brothers Paul, Timothy, James and David, with his brother Peter following shortly after. The Woodford family resided in Newberry until John was four years old, they then moved to Wawa, Ontario where his family built their own home. They established a church within their home and in 1963, broke ground on building their own church in the community of Wawa. In the fall of 1963, the congregation moved into the church whose foundations, walls and even furniture was built by the Woodford family. John enjoyed spending time with his family, particularly spending time at Higgins Lake. The Woodford family did plenty of camping and John often expressed fondness about their time spent in tents and exploring the outdoors as a family.

It was clear that John excelled in academics, and he was able to showcase this intelligence, particularly in high school and throughout the remainder of his life and career. John made his mark, attending Michipicoten High School, as he received numerous accolades for his success in both academics and athletics. To this day, John’s name can be found on a variety of trophies and plaques at the school. John won the majority of the awards in cross country, track and field. He was by far the fastest runner in northern Ontario. Being named Top Athlete at MHS, John had the opportunity to join fellow top athletes from schools across Ontario in a leadership camp. This camp promoted athletics and cultivated future leaders which John surely became. John was also named Top Student, earning himself the Antonio Boin award, demonstrating good scholastic, athletic and social skills.  A force to be reckoned with in both academics and athletics, John graduated in June of 1974.

Following school, John found work at a local Kmart in Sault Ste. Marie, working for numerous locations until he found himself in North York in 1977. It was here he found his person, who he later discovered to be the love of his life, Lori Dekruyf. John worked for Kmart until 1979 when he realised, after being asked to relocate, that he had found his home. John continued to work hard though, exploring his talents as a sales representative when he started to sell pots and pans, door-to-door. In pursuit of this newfound talent in sales, John landed a job he enjoyed at Nivel Sales, where he worked for several years until he moved on to Oral B/Gillette in 1984. Known for his fantastic work ethic and motivation to both learn and do more, his boss suggested John join him as he moved on to a new and developing organization, Janssen. His boss hired him as a sales rep and ensured he'd be a manager within the year. John took the gamble (and a pay cut) to pursue this new opportunity. It turns out, it was the best thing he could’ve done. John officially went to Janssen on February 18, 1987, as a sales representative. As promised, he was made a division manager of a territory. He worked at home and travelled, eventually moving into an office location in Mississauga before Janssen merged with MacNeil, making the next move to Toronto. John held numerous positions within the company - working in government relations, customer relations - working his way up the ranks. It is important to note that John never had a post secondary education while working his way up the ladder at Janssen. Knowing this may limit him in the future, John recognized an obstacle and rose to the occasion. John decided that he would pursue an MBA. He worked and raised his family all while dedicating himself to obtaining his degree. He did so successfully and graduated in 2004, opening further doors for him in his career and solidifying security for his family. There were no limits to what John could achieve. He worked at Janssen for 31 years, remaining a valuable employee until his retirement in 2018, when he was the Director of Corporate Accounts & Established Medicines. John was known around the office for his guidance, leadership and humour. Often a line outside his office door to chat, John was always willing to support his colleagues. John was often described as a mentor, role model and someone who left a tremendous impact.

As for his family life, John met Lori at the North York Kmart in 1977. John was known for his persistence as he often asked Lori, “what are we doing after work today”. Lori could only thwart his advances for so long. On August 18, 1977, to John’s absolute shock, upon asking his daily question, Lori responded “let’s go see a movie”. John, the gentleman that he was, took the bus to Lori’s house, picked her up and hand in hand they took the bus to Yonge and Sheppard where they watched Smokey and the Bandit. This was only the beginning of their story. Their relationship continued to solidify as they experienced the challenges life threw at them. Most remarkably when Lori was hit by a car and broke her back. John is remembered to be laying on the floor, on his back at the hospital so that he could see and talk to Lori throughout the healing process. The two dated for six years, including long distance, when John was moved to Port Colborne for work. Upon being told he was moving even further, John, certain that Lori was the one, denied the move, quitting his job at Kmart to be with her. Knowing Lori was the one, it was clear the next step John would take in life - he proposed!  When asked about the most romantic time in his life, John shared that it was August 18, their 6-year anniversary. John and Lori went out to dinner at Old Ed’s Warehouse where John proposed. Of course, she said yes! Together, as they made their leap into adulthood, they also made their first big purchase together, a semi-detached home in Scarborough. Living together prior to the wedding not being an option, Lori lived with her mom and dad leading up to the wedding. John and Lori got married on July 28, 1984, at the Cedar Brae Golf Club. Post marriage, something they remember fondly is their travels together. Lori and John made several phenomenal trips throughout their lifetime. In their younger years, they went to Europe with Lori’s family. They did a driving tour, visiting France, Luxembourg, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, and more. This was an exciting trip, particularly as John had never left America or Canada. It felt only right that he was exploring the world with his favourite person by his side. It was their last “hurrah” before expanding their family. In 1989, John and Lori bought the home they’d remain in for 29 years, navigating life's ups and downs, making many memories, and filling it with love. Home was in Mississauga, Ontario. After trying for a baby for several years, Lori and John were pleased to announce their miracle baby being born in 1990, a little girl named Lianne Elizabeth Woodford. Their second child came 5 years later, in 1995, as they welcomed another little girl, Kelly Louise Woodford. John was an incredible father, imparting his wisdom and knowledge on his girls, dedicating himself to their health and happiness. John could always be counted on to attend many soccer games, horseback riding lessons, tee ball games and school concerts. When his daughters grew, he was there too. Coming to multiple university graduations, purchases of new vehicles and houses, births of children and anytime the girls needed a listening ear. John was the first phone call when Lianne and Kelly had big news to share and would always celebrate their successes alongside them. He was also a doting grandfather to Everett, aged five, and recently, baby girl Mackenzie Ray, named after John and born on his birthday; October 17, 2023. He leaves them successful, healthy and happy; in large part to his support, dedication, education and love. John made dreams become a reality not only for his children but for his wife and himself too. It was John and Lori’s dream to go on a river cruise throughout Europe. In his retirement, they were able to go on that adventure in the summer of 2018. Also on the list, a dream home. John fulfilled his dream of building a beautiful, custom home on their lakeside property; enjoying it in the summer whilst travelling to Naples, Florida in the winter. In 2023, they bought a home in Niagara, which is what John called the “Naples of Canada”. John lived out his retirement years as he hoped, alongside the people he loved most.

In his free time, John dabbled in various athletics, hobbies and extracurriculars. In particular, he was passionate about golf and bike riding, which he participated in to his heart's content with colleagues and friends all over, most notably in Florida where many of his fellow Janssen retirees also spent months living. John shared his love of biking with many, often leading them on kilometre long adventures they weren’t entirely prepared for. John participated in numerous cycling races for charity or for his own leisure, often trying to beat records in both distance and timings. John loved hockey, playing in his earlier years, watching the Toronto Maple Leafs, cheering on his daughter-in-law, Natasha, at her games and celebrating Everett as he learned to play. John also loved the game of golf and was most recently sharing this passion with his 5-year-old grandson, Everett, as he taught him how to swing the club, hitting the ball towards the sunset at their lakeside house. John loved that house, going on evening boat rides, affectionately called “sunset cruises”, gardening his immaculate yard and driving around in his John Deere lawn mower. John was often spotted out on the docks just staring at the lake. When he would come inside and was asked what he was doing, he would simply reply “I never could’ve imagined I would live in this perfect home on a beautiful lake”. John and Lori enjoyed making new friends and quietly settled in amongst their neighbours. They often went for neighbourhood walks that lasted hours as they ran across friends and chatted. The explorations didn’t stop there. John & Lori thoroughly enjoyed their “mystery tours” where they got in the car with no destination, driving for long distances in the pursuit of new towns, architecture, restaurants and scenery. If not outdoors, John could be found at his computer, navigating complex spreadsheets riddled with numbers and finances. His love for academics never dissipated. Together, John and Lori made the best of every day and enjoyed retirement together. John lived a full life and was proud of his life, his family and his numerous achievements in life, love, family and career.

In the months following John’s diagnosis, he approached it head on, full of positivity, eager to learn more in an effort to arm himself for the fight ahead. John exuded strength throughout his illness, not only for himself, but for those surrounded around him. While he was going through the biggest challenge of his life, he thought of his family. John left no stone unturned in his efforts to put a plan in place to ensure those he left behind, were left with the tools and supports in place and that they would never go without. A true insight to John’s character; he thought of others before himself and wanted them to be happy and well beyond his passing. Despite what he was going through, John was concerned about his family first. He established plans that secured the success of “his girls” through making sure everything was taken care of, covered or that imperative knowledge was passed on to someone else before his own passing. John passed away peacefully at home, on Monday, December 25, 2023. He was 67. John’s legacy lives on through his wife Lori, his two daughters; Lianne and Kelly, and his two grandchildren; Everett and Mackenzie Ray.

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