Woodbery Endowment Honors Son’s Legacy While Blessing Adults with Special Needs

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In 2019, shortly after the passing of her 52-year-old son, Ben Woodbery, Martha Woodbery Wells of Statesboro established an endowment fund with the Georgia United Methodist Foundation to honor his memory. Annual distributions will perpetually bless adults with developmental disabilities served by Wesley Glen Ministries in Macon.

It was a heartbreaking ordeal for Ben’s mother and her late husband Rev. Jerry Woodbery when final tests performed by a leading pediatric neurosurgeon revealed their 18-month-old son must be institutionalized so he could receive around-the-clock comprehensive medical care.

When asked what sustained their family through these trying times, Wells replies, “Our faith and our faith community. I don’t know how anybody manages heartbreak like this without God’s support and love. I knew that God thought Ben was precious in His sight and that he was always under the shadow of His wings. There’s joy knowing where he is now. I put on his grave, ‘Fully Whole and in the Arms of His Savior.’”

Ben had two older brothers, Matt and John, and one younger brother, Paul. Rev. Dr. Matt Woodbery, a fifth-generation United Methodist minister who serves as senior pastor of Mulberry Street UMC in Macon and as a GUMF trustee, explains their family’s spiritual legacy.

“My father served in extension ministry, representing Methodism and The South Georgia Conference as an Army chaplain for 22 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1983,” Woodbery says. “After retirement, he returned to parish ministry, serving White Bluff UMC in Savannah, St. Mary’s Road UMC in Columbus, and Statesboro First UMC. He died in December 1989.”

Wells tearfully recalls many of the things that she loved most about Ben. “He was always happy and joyful and laughing unless he was sick. Ben had a great personality and was fun to be around. He loved everybody, loved to give hugs and always wanted to be where the action was,” she says.

The family’s decision to create this endowment, which provides perpetual gifts in Ben’s memory to Wesley Glen Ministries, was an easy one. “Matt suggested Wesley Glen. When we visited, I knew we had done the right thing,” Wells says. “We all love the Methodist Church. We could not think of a better way to honor Ben than to help people who have similar difficulties and need loving care.”

If you would like to establish an endowment in honor or memory of someone special, please contact Nancy Young, GUMF Vice President of Development, at 678-708-6601 or nyoung@gumf.org.