Richard S. Woodruff

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This article is about the civil engineer. For the jeweler, see Richard Woodruff.

Richard Shaul Woodruff (born March 22, 1913; died April 23, 2016) was a civil engineer for Southern Company and a volunteer adviser for the Village Creek Society, working to alleviate flooding along its course through Birmingham.

Woodruff graduated from high school in Binghamton, New York in 1931 and hoped to study engineering at Cornell University, but could not afford the $400 a semester for tuition, so he enrolled in advanced classes from the high school during the summer. A classmate showed him a course catalog from the University of Alabama where he learned that the engineering department was headed by a Cornell graduate and the civil engineering program included the same courses, but for $88 a semester for out-of-state students. He and three friends from Binghamton were accepted and traveled together to Tuscaloosa in a Ford roadster in the fall of 1932.

Woodruff completed his bachelor's in civil engineering in 1937 and was hired two weeks later at Alabama Power. During World War II he tried to enlist in the U.S. Navy but was underweight. Instead he worked for the Bechtel McComb Aircraft Corporation in Birmingham for two years, designing modifications to B-24 bombers. After the war he returned to Southern Company Services and eventually was promoted to manager of the Hydroelectric Plant Planning Section. He was an executive engineer during the design of the Logan Martin Dam, Weiss Dam, Bouldin Dam, Henry Dam, Lay Dam, Smith Dam, Holt Dam, Bankhead Dam and R. L. Harris Dam. He retired in 1978, but continued to work as a consultant with Hendon Engineering Associates until 1998.

In his later life, Woodruff turned his attention to the flooding issues with Village Creek. He thought it was absurd that flood damage kept making the news, but that no one was doing anything to solve the problem. Through the Village Creek Society he prepared designs for a replacement for the Avenue F Bridge and the eroded banks from Avenue F to Avenue W. The society has applied for federal funding to allow those improvements to proceed, but they remain unrealized.

Woodruff and his wife, the former Gwendolyn Robeson of Selma, had two sons, Michael and Richard L. Woodruff. He was buried at Forest Crest Cemetery.

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