Categories: News

In late 2019, our Chapter lost a great friend in Trustee Dean Woodman. “Woody,” as he was known by all his friends, was a lifelong golfer and immediately embraced The First Tee during his first visit to the Finnegan Learning Center in Dyer Park.

“He dropped by one day to donate golf clubs and just started asking questions about our organization,” said Executive Director Carl Mistretta. “When I told Woody we make it all happen for our children and veterans mostly through donations, he immediately wanted to help. A few weeks later he was a Trustee and enjoyed every minute of supporting our chapter and the national organization. We became fast friends and I miss him a great deal.”

(Pictured above middle: Woodman and Carl Mistretta. Above right: Dean’s wife-Jane Woodman with Honorary Chairman of The First Tee- President George Bush and Woody.)

Woodman was a pioneer investment banker, life-long sailor, scratch golfer, private investor and philanthropist. He suffered an aortic rupture New Year’s Eve 2018 while visiting family in California and never fully recovered. He was 91.

He is survived by his wife Jane Baumer Woodman of 38 years. Woodman was born in Chicago in 1928 to a Quaker family. In 1946, he graduated from the Moses Brown School, a “Friends” college preparatory school in Providence, RI, that believes “education should foster a spirit of inquiry and an ability to apply factual knowledge to solve real-world problems creatively,” which Woodman embraced his entire life.

He graduated from Amherst College in 1950 with a double major in economics and English Literature where he played baseball and sharpened his financial analytical skills during very profitable marathon bridge games. During the Korean War (1951-55) he was a U.S. Navy Cougar jet pilot accumulating 2,100 flying hours and 176 carrier landings while acquiring the call sign “Blue Leader.”

Woodman, known as “Woody” during his youth, “Deano” during his business career and “Woody” once again in retirement, was one of the leading financial architects of numerous corporate financings, mergers and acquisitions. His career spanned over 60 years and he especially delighted in providing advice and counsel to entrepreneurs, many of whom went on to publicly launch their ventures.

Woodman began his investment banking career with Merrill Lynch in New York City in 1956 and in 1965 he opened its first branch investment banking office in San Francisco and then a subsidiary in Los Angeles in 1971. The San Francisco office was the first branch banking office in the history of Wall Street. Merrill Lynch was so successful that in short order virtually all of New York banking firms opened West Coast offices to be closer to the burgeoning Silicon Valley and other fast-growing West Coast companies.

Woodman served as principal banker to clients including Bank of America, Safeway Stores, Wells Fargo, Albertsons, Atlantic Richfield, Allied Signal, U.S. Leasing, Smith International, Garrett Air Research, Douglas Aircraft, Longs Drugs, The Gap, Denny’s Restaurants, Western Airlines and Willamette Industries. He also acted as senior advisor to Hughes Tool Company and Hughes Aircraft Company.

Woodman left Merrill, the largest banking company in 1978 to become a founding partner of two boutique New York Stock Exchange investment-banking firms that financed technology, life science, retail and other emerging growth companies. First, Robertson, Colman, Stephens & Woodman, then Woodman, Kirkpatrick & Gilbreath, selling the latter to Hambrecht & Quist LLC where he remained as Managing Director-Investment Banking Group.

He subsequently was Managing Director at Furman Selz LLC and Managing Director at ING Barings LLC. In 1993 Mr. Woodman proudly became a co-founder, providing 90% of the initial capital for, and was the early chairman of GoPro Inc., the company created by his son Nick, which became the fastest selling sports video camera in history. Following his retirement and move to Palm Beach in 2011 Mr. Woodman continued as an advisor and investor in numerous emerging companies, becoming an early investor in Luminar Technologies, Inc. of Orlando. The company works with 12 of the top 15 automakers with its LiDAR advanced sensor system for the autonomous vehicle industry. At the time of his death he was a director of MarineMax, Inc., Triad Semiconductor, Inc. Medallion Bank, Joi Scientific and Airwire.

The Woodman’s philanthropy of late focused on The First Tee and his alma mater, The Moses Brown School. In 2013 he and his wife, Jane, made the largest gift in the school’s 235-year history to create the Woodman Family Community and Performance Center and to support the total renovation of the Walter Jones Library, originally a gymnasium built circa 1900 by Dean’s great-grandfather, Augustine Jones, then head of school. The Woodman Center, opened in 2016, is a 36,000 sq. ft., 500-seat venue that hosts artistic and intellectual events for Moses Brown and the broader Providence community. The Woodman’s made the gift in honor of his Quaker family’s five-generation commitment to the school.

Woodman was a member of the San Francisco Golf Club, Burlingame Country Club, New York Yacht Club, The Sailfish Club and The Beach Club. Woodman was predeceased by a two-year-old son, Todd V. Woodman. He is survived by children Curtis Woodman, Nick (Jill) Woodman and Pilar Woodman, who called him “Pops,” Andrea W. Moody (Bo), stepson, Dr. David (Christine) Dawson and, by brother-in-law Dick Baumer and godson Ted Swindells, grandchildren, Sebastian Woodman, Hugo, Duke and Bodhi Woodman, Oliver and Teddy Moody, step grandchildren Kendall and Dane Dawson, nephews, Michael (Michelle) Baumer, Stephen Baumer, and Christopher (Bridget) Baumer. His final year, his personal companion was Epeli Viesa, a Fijian gentleman who possessed all of the qualities Woodman admired in a friendship. Dean exhibited a dedication to principle and held himself to the highest of personal standards. He filled his homes with wonderful music and a constant supply of books to read, had a memorable sartorial style, made friends easily and kept them forever. A Spring Memorial service is planned.