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August 23
08:21 2018

John Woods, 75, the founder of the Kolbe Foundation, founder of Cisco Construction, owner of Old Belize and member of the Rotary Club of Belize, died last week Friday evening in Houston, Texas after a long battle with cancer.

He was the fourth of five children born in the US and his older brother who became a priest in Guatemala invited him there to fly planes after he left the US Army with his pilot’s certification. Woods got a job as a pilot for a company that eventually acquired land in Maskall, Belize for spice products. His employment as a pilot landed him to Belize in 1969 as the manager of a spice farm.

Soon after he arrived in Belize he met his wife, Marta in the now defunct Barclays Bank. Together they had five children. In April, 1993 they lost their daughter, Caroline, in a traffic accident. A year later, their son Cisco, was involved in a serious plane accident. He miraculously survived.

John Woods literally helped to develop Belize, infrastructurally through Cisco Construction Company which he founded in the mid-1970’s – a company that has taken on many of the country’s infrastructural projects; and then in 2002 when he founded Kolbe Foundation and assumed the management of the Belize Central Prison in Hattieville.

Woods lobbied the Said Musa administration to manage the prison after it became evident that it was costing the government too much to manage the facility on its own and overcrowding, violence, escapes were commonplace, and lack of rehabilitative programs was also an issue.

In September of that same year, the Bill was passed and the Kolbe Foundation became the managers of the prison facility. Kolbe, under Woods’ watch, developed and promoted programs that improved the quality of the prisoners’ lives.

Taheera Ahmad, former Deputy CEO/Superintendent of the Kolbe Foundation shared the following with the Reporter: “Mr. Woods along with a few other Rotarians, ventured into the field of Prison management under Kolbe Foundation back in 2002. It was an environment not known for any inclination towards human rights, rehabilitation and the belief in the innate good in men (even those who’ve breached the laws). He toiled diligently and sincerely, converting Belize to accept that rehabilitation and second chance was the true way forward. However, decades before Kolbe, he was characterizing his interactions with people through these same qualities. He was a man always eager to lend a helping hand. He created opportunities and with his intriguing vision, pursued utilitarian goals for the benefit of many in need!

Mr. Woods was more than an individual; he was an institution that favorably transformed the lives of many! His accomplishments and unique vision have been recognized locally, regionally and internationally. As Belize mourns his loss, let us honor his legacy by exemplifying a similar culture hallmarked by brotherly love, service, belief in the goodness of others and the bravery to pursue selfless visions that are beneficial to our community.”

As a Rotarian, Woods was instrumental in helping to save lives, raising funds for the organization’s biggest project, its Gift of Life program and many other initiatives that benefit and improve the lives of others.

The late John Woods is survived by his wife, Marta and two sons and two daughters. They have planned a Memorial Service for him for Saturday. His funeral will be announced after his ashes arrive in the country.

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