Sense of justice put Atlantan in harm's way

Bob Woodland was short in stature and slight of build, but his sense of justice never wavered -- even if it meant putting himself in harm's way.

During his daily jog near Piedmont Park in the summer of 1977, Mr. Woodland witnessed a two-car accident. Although just a fender-bender, one of the drivers got out and began choking the other driver.

"Bob noticed it and said, ‘Hey, stop that,' figuring that would be enough," said longtime friend Jeff Cochran. "The guy did not stop, except to chase Bob."

The driver pulled out a gun and pistol-whipped Mr. Woodland. The gun went off and the bullet struck Mr. Woodland in the foot, Mr. Cochran said.

For the act, the then-compliance officer with the U.S. Department of Labor earned the department's Valor Award "for courageous actions that resulted in saving a life."

But for Mr. Woodland, it was just par for the course.

During an Atlanta Braves game in 1982, Mr. Woodland jumped in the middle of a spat between two fans. His intervention ended the fight, but he "got a fat lip out of it," said longtime friend Tom McLain.

The 5-foot-9-inch thinly built runner was "not the sort of guy you'd expect to jump in the middle of altercations, but he would do it without thinking about it," Mr. McLain said. "He wasn't going to stand for anything he didn't think was just."

Robert Frederick Woodland Jr., 59, of Atlanta died Sunday after a long illness at VistaCare Center at Wesley Woods.

The memorial service will be at 1 p.m. today at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Decatur. A.S. Turner & Sons funeral home is in charge arrangements.

Born in 1949 in Philadelphia, Mr. Woodland graduated from Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., in 1967. He attended the University of the Virginia, earning a bachelor's degree in 1975.

Mr. Woodland then moved to Atlanta and worked for the U.S. Department of Labor. In 1981, he entered the University of Georgia's law school and graduated in 1984. At the time of his death, Mr. Woodland was an attorney at Storrs & Woodland.

In law school, he met Mr. McLain. The two roommates were almost a decade apart in age, but the older Mr. Woodland could relate to folks of any age, Mr. McLain said.

"What was remarkable about him is that he's got friends from different phases of his life and everybody seems to note the same things: love of music, reading, the Braves and that sense of justice," he said.

Mr. Woodland had great empathy for the underdog, said Mr. Cochran, a former employee for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"He just hated seeing people get hurt," Mr. Cochran said. "Sadly while defending other folks, he'd get hurt himself. But all the while, he never regretted coming to someone's rescue."

Survivors include wife Kim Woodland, daughter Helen and son Patrick, all of Atlanta; his mother, Helen Lyle Woodland, of Alexandria, Va.; his sisters Barbara Fleming of Richmond, Va.; Helen Hager of Springfield, Va., and Amy King of Springfield, Va.; and brother Lawrence Woodland of Lovettsville, Va.