Woods laid to rest in firefighter style

Published 8:24 am Wednesday, January 27, 2010

COURTLAND—In the end, Josh Woods got a proper fireman’s funeral. Friends and family said that’s just the way he wanted it.

“He would have been very happy with it,” said Woods’ best friend Colby DeWald. “He wanted a big firefighter’s funeral. He wanted everybody to be ‘rednecked up.’ He didn’t want anyone to be fancy.”

Barbara Woods, Joshua’s mother, said her son was first diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor — called a nongerminomatous germ cell tumor, a type of pediatric cancer — in August 2007.

He died Jan. 10 at the age of 20. His funeral, two days later, celebrated his love of firefighting. His casket was lifted onto a truck and two ladders made a bridge so that funeral attendees could drive under on the way to his burial.

“He had been with the Branchville Fire Department for five years — since he was 15 — and loved it more than anything,” his mom said. “He had intended to go to school to be a firefighter.”

Woods said her son would have “been amazed” at his funeral send-off.

“He would have been amazed that so many people turned out,” she said. “I think he would have been shocked, but very impressed.”

Woods had been battling cancer for two years, but an experimental treatment in Washington D.C. last summer helped him regain strength.

“He was still very involved with life,” his mother said. “He went to the beach, did everything he wanted to do. He was the life of the party — always cutting up and laughing and having a good time.”

The disease returned full-force and progressed quickly after that, she said.

Michelle Buchanan has known the Woods family since 1997, when they were neighbors.

“Josh was a strong-willed child, which is what got him through his sickness,” she said. “He had a real zest for life.”

The family asked that memorial contributions be made to Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters Cancer Unit