Pace Woods Jr. Part 1: Beginnings

This begins a three-part look into the fascinating life and legacy of the last Woods family member associated with Woods Bros Realty.
A young Pace Woods Jr with his father, Pace Woods Sr.
A young Pace Woods Jr with his father, Pace Woods Sr.

Bridging the traditional and modern eras of Woods Bros Realty was a task that required intelligence and nuance. It took authority, patience, and class. It took Pace Woods Jr.

Born in 1924 in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Frederick Pace and Olive (Black), Pace Woods Jr. received early education in the Lincoln Public Schools, then attended The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey where he graduated cum laude in 1943.

During World War II he served in both the U.S. Army Air Corps and the 75th Infantry Division, attaining the rank of sergeant. In 1950, he graduated with Dean’s honors and a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he studied creative writing, drama, and economics.

In 1950, when Woods was finishing at Yale, modern television was emerging. As was the case with many others from his family, Woods had a talent for sensing the possibilities of a newly blossoming field. The potential of television to entertain and educate was seductive. Woods relocated to California and started a successful career in the television industry in Hollywood.

Woods said that he became Audience Promotion Director at ABC. He then moved to NBC where he became the Advertising and Promotion Director for KNBH, NBC’s Los Angeles affiliate. At NBC he transferred to the live television part of the network operation. Woods’ directing credits include productions of the popular NBC Matinee Theatre, on which he directed stars such as Peter Graves and Cloris Leachman. In a 2004 interview, Woods revealed that he ultimately became senior director for NBC Hollywood and was connected to such productions as The Dinah Shore Show, The Jimmy Durante Show, The Bob Hope Show, NBC Matinee Theatre and The Colgate Comedy Hour with stars such as Martin and Lewis, Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra and others. He also had a hand in NBC’s first color television commercial for RCA.

Next week: Part 2: The Bridge

Pace Woods dies at 86

Pace Woods
Pace Woods

F. Pace Woods II, Chairman Emeritus of Woods Bros Realty and owner of Woods Investment Co., passed away Monday at the age of 86 after a long illness.

Woods served Woods Bros Realty and the Lincoln real estate and development markets for 50 years, having retired from his position as chairman in 2004.

Woods followed his father, F. Pace Woods Sr., in the family business, which was founded by Pace’s great-grandfather, Col. Frederick M. Woods, and grandfather, Mark W. Woods, in 1889.

Born in 1924 in Lincoln to Frederick Pace and Olive (Black), Woods was educated in the Lincoln Public Schools through junior high and then attended The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey where he graduated cum laude in 1943.

He later earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., in 1950, graduating with Dean’s honors. At Yale he majored in creative writing and drama and minored in economics.

During World War II he served in both the U.S. Army Air Corps and the 75th Infantry Division, earning the rank of sergeant.

In 1950 he started his career in the television industry in Hollywood. At ABC he was the Audience Promotion Director and later transferred to NBC where he became the Advertising and Promotion Director for KNBH, NBC’s Los Angeles affiliate.

At NBC he transferred to the live television part of the network operation and ultimately became senior director for NBC Hollywood, directing such shows as The Dinah Shore Show, the Jimmy Durante Show, the Bob Hope Show, Matinee Theatre and Colgate Comedy Hour with stars such as Martin and Lewis, Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra and others. He also had a hand in NBC’s first color television commercial for RCA.

Late in 1958, Woods returned to Lincoln between shows to work for the family business. He had planned to return to his own pilot TV project in Hollywood; however, he soon became an integral part of Woods Bros Realty.

Woods received his real estate license Oct. 6, 1965, and his broker’s license Oct. 10, 1968. He aided his family in advertising and management, land development, financing, residential development, farm management and new construction, helping to grow Woods Bros Realty into one of the top real estate firms in Nebraska.

Under Woods’ leadership, Woods Bros Realty embraced the concept of “one-stop” shopping to provide better service to the public. He served as president of Woods Bros Realty; Woods Investment Company, a land development company; and Woods Bros Real Estate Group, which included Capitol Title Co. (now Nebraska Land Title and Abstract); Woods Bros Insurance (now HomeServices of Nebraska Insurance); and Community Mortgage Company.

Woods expanded the brokerage business with his father in 1968 by merging Woods Bros & Swanson Realtors, and then again in 1999 with the purchase of RE/MAX Professionals.

Woods earned his CRB (Certified Residential Broker) designation from the National Association of REALTORS® and was the Nebraska REALTOR® of the Year in 1997 and the REALTORS® Association of Lincoln (RAL) REALTOR® of the year in 2000. As 1999 RAL President, he followed his grandfather Mark Woods, president in 1924 and his father, Pace Sr., president in 1956. He was named to the Woods Bros Realty Hall of Fame in 2003.

He served as a director of the Nebraska REALTORS® Association, was a Nebraska REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) Trustee and was a member of the Legislative Review Committee, along with serving on the MLS Committee of the National Association of REALTORS®.

His political involvement promoted excellence in real estate, including supporting fair housing education, voluntary affirmative marketing agreements and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) laws and regulations. Woods always encouraged political involvement by Woods Bros associates and managers as well.

Woods also established the Woods Bros Realty Foundation for Giving. The Foundation is funded through a matching program with the Woods Bros associates. The Foundation for Giving has given more than $200,000 over 20 years to charitable organizations supporting children and the elderly.

Woods sold Woods Bros Real Estate Group on June 19, 2002 to HomeServices of America Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. Woods Bros Realty is an industry leader still today with 250 sales associates and three offices in Lincoln and offices in Beatrice, Seward, York and Grand Island, and Woods celebrated the company’s 120th anniversary in 2009.

Woods was a strong supporter of the arts. He was active in Friends of the Lied, Lincoln Symphony, National Historic Trust, as well as numerous other organizations. He served on the Nebraska Repertory Theatre Advisory Board and was inducted into the first class of the Nebraska Repertory Theatre Hall of Fame in 2001.The agents of Woods Bros Realty started a scholarship in his name in 1994 at the University of Nebraska. Woods endowed this scholarship to provide for the education of our youth.

In 2004 he was presented with an Award of Merit by Hixon-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, and he received in 2010 a Mayor’s Arts Award–the Halcyon Allsman Benefactor of the Arts Award–for his significant financial contributions to the arts in Lincoln. Gov. Mike Johanns in 2004 awarded Woods with a Nebraska Admiralship. In 2009, the Woods family received the Distinguished NEBRASKAlander Award for their prominent role in the business, community and cultural development in Lincoln and the state of Nebraska.

Tom Woods, Gov. Dave Heineman and Pace Woods
Tom Woods, Gov. Dave Heineman and Pace Woods

A world traveler, Woods has traveled throughout the Middle East, Africa, France and England, and he is also an avid Big Red fan, having donated the “Little Red” fire engine to the University of Nebraska the year Tom Osborne became head coach.

Woods enjoyed field training, guiding his beloved late Labrador Retriever, Howland’s Calypso “Skye,” to Field Champion honors. He also enjoyed spending time at his Lake Superior home on Madeline Island.

Pace Woods and his beloved dog, Syke
Pace Woods and his beloved dog, Skye

Woods remained active in real estate and land development beyond his retirement through the completion of the Rolling Hills development and Rolling Hills Ridge, built in the Woods Bros tradition of Woodsshire and Sheridan Boulevard.

Family members include his sister, Marilynn Woods Ellick and 10 nieces and nephews, Lisa Kilbourne Briggs, Marjorie Curry Woods, Marilyn Anne Girard, Shauna Colton Woods, Shelley Clarke Lentz, Rondi Woods Pike, Pace Woods Wilson, Diana Wyman Eisner, Robert Black Woods, Mark Williams Woods.

He was preceded in death by his parents and brother Mark William Woods.

Memorial Service: 3:00 p.m. Sunday (8-1-10) First-Plymouth Congregational Church, 2000 ‘D’ Street. Rev. Barb Smisek officiating. Private prior family committal service. No visitation/cremation.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the City Mission and the Lincoln Food Bank.

Keeping the Pace: Lincoln’s Pioneers Park

A few years after the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana, Mark Woods decided to take the train to Native American Territory and buy cattle. While there was still a feeling of hostility between some of the white settlers and the Native American tribes, trading and buying of cattle still occurred, and Mark Woods was interested in buying cattle.

Before the chiefs of the tribes would parlay, Mark had to wrestle the strongest brave of the tribe for the honor of sitting down to negotiate. The Native Americans did not know that Mark was captain of the wrestling team at the University of Nebraska, so his skills opened up many opportunities to buy cattle.

The cattle were then shipped by rail back to Lincoln where Burlington Northern Railroad had fattening pens in what is now Lincoln’s Pioneers Park.

Several years later Mr. Harris, President of Burlington, after having closed these pens, was hosting Mark Woods and Pace Woods Sr. in his New York City apartment. Mr. Harris was anxious to make a gift of some kind to the City of Lincoln. Mark suggested that he donate a park to the citizens in the land owned by Burlington west of the City.

The Harris family was so pleased with the idea that they also decided to donate several items of animal sculptures for the park. Mark agreed to donate evergreen trees and lilac bushes from his nursery then located south of Sheridan Blvd. and east of South 33rd. They were to line the south side of Van Dorn leading to the Park and south on Coddington to the Park entrance leading to the buffalo.

Buffalo statuary in Pioneers Park
Buffalo statuary in Pioneers Park, courtesy of the Nebraska State Historical Society

The buffalo with its green patina was to be the first piece of sculpture to arrive and later several other animals indigenous to Nebraska were to follow. The entrance to Pioneers Park was landscaped by Ernst Herminghaus and over the years has become a favorite of Lincoln’s citizens.

A few years after the buffalo was in place and the other sculpture had not arrived, City Hall decided that the buffalo would look better if painted with gilt. That decision so disturbed Mr. Harris that when he saw the result, he cancelled all the other animals which were to follow. While that decision by the City Hall was quickly reversed, the remaining sculpture has never arrived.

Pioneers Park has continued to be a place of beauty and growing activity and would not have occurred without the generosity of the Harris family and the Burlington Railroad.

Keeping the Pace: Thinking Outside the Box

My grandfather, Mark Woods, and my father, Pace Woods Sr., as a young boy, used to take a horse and buggy from their home at S. 26th and N Streets and drive out to the area of S.27th and what is now Woodsdale Blvd. to hunt ducks. In the early 1900s that area was a series of ponds west to S. 17th filled with water fowl.

In the 1920s after my grandfather developed the Woodscrest Addition between S. 27th and S. 24th Streets, he had some concern about bringing new home owners over the hill at Van Dorn Street and into the area of the ponds. He needed an attraction that would encourage people to live in the area.

In 1917 the members of the Country Club of Lincoln were thinking about moving the Club from its location near Gooch’s Mill. Mark Woods offered to purchase the old Club building and land, which allowed the members to make the move it its present location on S. 24th Street.

This move opened up the development of Capitol Hill between Sheridan Blvd. and Calvert, Woodsdale Blvd. between S. 27th & 20th, Woodsshire between 20th & 17th, and Indian Village from 20th to 14th St.

The Woodsdale ponds remained for many years until the 1930s. During the drought, they all dried up except for the pond at Lake Street and S. 17th. This remaining pond is still used for ice skating, as all of them were earlier.

Keeping the Pace: The White Line Street Cars

The White Line
The White Line

Up until the end of World War II, street cars were the life blood of transportation in most cities in the United States. Some cities such as New Orleans and San Francisco still have a few street cars running in the downtown and a few residential areas.

Mark W. Woods founded the White Line for the purpose of serving the many residential areas created for homes by Woods Bros Realty.

The line started as did all street car lines by a loop in the 10th and P Streets area and then ran south down 17th Street to South Street, then east to Sheridan Blvd. Both of these streets were paved with bricks at that time with the tracks in the middle of the street. The White Line then ended where Sheridan intersects Calvert Street.

I am told that The White Line was not allowed to extend into College View as the Mayor purportedly owned the street car line running down Normal Blvd to 48th St and then into College View.

The price to ride the streetcar was 10 cents. When it reached the bridge over the Rock Island Railroad tracks, passengers could continue to the end of the line at Calvert St for 1 cent.

During World War II both the White Line and the Randolph St. Line were compelled to continue their operations due to the lack of gasoline and rubber tires used by the military. After V-J Day all of the streetcar lines were merged into the Lincoln Traction Co. and the rails were torn up.

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This article is the first in our “Keeping the Pace” series–stories from F. Pace Woods II, Woods Bros Realty Chairman Emeritus. Stay tuned for more stories from Woods Bros’ history.

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