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Obituaries » Thell M. Woods

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July 3, 1939 - December 27, 2022

There will be a memorial service beginning at 11:00 a.m. on January 28, 2023, with a gathering beginning at 10:00 a.m., at First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo, 212 S. Park Street. His ashes will be interred with his parents and brother in Alma, MI. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Rotary Club of Kalamazoo Charities, PO Box 50251, Kalamazoo MI 49005-0251.

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Thell M. Woods, entrepreneur, eternal optimist, lover of gadgets, passed away on Tuesday, December 27, in Kalamazoo. He was 83. Thell was born on July 3, 1939 in Milford MI to the Rev. Robert and Ruth Woods. He was predeceased by his parents and his brother, Robert. If you lived in Milford, Michigan in 1946, he likely appeared on your doorstep as a seven-year-old boy peddling potholders as part of his first business venture. During high school, he bought and operated a Tastee-Freez, a business he later sold to help fund his trip around the world at age 23. He held a BA degree from Alma College and a Master’s from American University. He was a dreamer, an idea man, his feet and aspirations untethered from the ground, who spent much of his life helping others achieve their business and community goals. Working as an expert in commercial real estate exchanges, Thell was involved in the development of far-ranging businesses, from the Bittersweet Ski Resort and the Stonecliffe Hotel on Mackinaw Island to an early internet provider in Kalamazoo and a subdivision in Alma on the Pine River. Thell’s personality was as unique as his name. He was a wearer of suits, but unafraid of getting dirt on his hands or adrenaline in his veins. His inner daredevil led him to many adventures – sky diving, hang gliding, parasailing, hot air ballooning, and even bungee jumping in New Zealand. His curiosity, intellect and quirkiness were embodied in his penchants for bumble-bee yellow cars, fanciful words and spoonerisms, the electromagnetic fields of the Theremin, and the imaginative repurposing of unwanted things. He was a consummate Rotarian and appeared in plays at the Kalamazoo Civic Theater, including his favorite, The Wizard of Oz. His philosophy of life was as curious and vibrant as the yellow-brick road that winds around his house. Thell left behind his wife and sunset partner Miriam Downey, who matched his generous, welcoming spirit toward everyone they encountered. He is also survived by his four kids Micah Woods, Sabrina Woods, Josh Woods, Felicia Ford and their spouses; three stepchildren Gordon Downey, Matthew Downey, Rachel Marsh-Prelesnik and their spouses; ten grandchildren; and his first wife, Roberta Rolfe, with whom he remained friends. Thell helped orchestrate this cast of characters, bringing them together in one family, in one life. He will be deeply missed.