The Camden Community and Lind Bohanon neighborhood lost a trailblazer this year when Ione Nettum Greene Woodford passed away in January. She is survived by her brother Don and his wife Julaine, many nieces and nephews and their offspring, and her five cats. She is also missed by her many friends and neighbors. Ione lived life on her terms in many ways, still living independently at the age of 93 and driving her manual transmission 1989 Dodge Colt.
Her first book, Tales from an Inkslinger: The Memoir of a Maverick was published in 2016 and details many of her adventures. The book was reviewed by Ann Moe in the February issue of the Camden News. [You can get Tales from an Inkslinger at amazon.com.]
Ione was born in North Dakota in May 1924. Her younger brother Don is 88 and still resides in North Dakota. With Ione’s cancer diagnosis in September 2017, Don and Julaine moved their dear sister to Fargo to be closer to her family. It was a blessing that her family was able to provide daily care for Ione while she could live independently. Such was the approach to life that Ione loved.
Ione’s life could have paralleled that of most women of her day — get an education, then marry and raise a family. Instead, she answered the yearning to travel, giving her adventure and an appreciation for diverse cultures. She faced her share of fears and problems multiple times and learned to be resilient and resourceful in overcoming obstacles.
Eventually, this daring young woman found her way to Minneapolis. Ione met her first husband, Tony Nettum in the ‘50s, and they eventually married in 1966. They made their home with Percy, Tony’s elderly father, and then opened a gift shop in Camden in 1973. Tony passed away in 1975.
Ione chose to stay with Percy and oversee his activities. As described in her book, caring for Percy was not so much a nursing activity as it was like herding cats. (Ione would appreciate that analogy). The wonderful blessing for us as her neighbors was that she stayed in the home after Percy passed away and made Emerson Avenue her home for 51 years.
In 1994, Ione reconnected with an old friend and married Woody, formally known as Edward Woodford. The two were inseparable, sharing travels mostly in an RV. Sadly, they experienced the onset of Woody’s dementia, and it progressed quickly. Christmas Day 2002 was the last day they spent outside of a hospital, and he passed away six weeks later in February 2003.
Ione loved her Camden Community. She was a founding member of the Camden Community News in 1976, and she was one of the founders of the annual Camden Showboat Days which ran until 2001. She participated in book clubs and walking groups and was a board member of the Lind Bohanon Neighborhood Association, to name a few. She married her love for gardening with her passion for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and created a land of elves and fairies and trolls and hobbits/gnomes in her back yard. In the years I knew her, she ‘watched and she called.’ She walked door to door to deliver flyers about National Night Out events and organized walking neighborhood clean-up projects.
I had the privilege of knowing Ione for less than five years, but I’ve had the great blessing to hear many stories about her from my fiancé and her neighbor of almost 30 years, Bob Stewart. As her friends plan to celebrate her life on May 20, I continue to hear great stories. She lived a long and full life and has left an impression on most that she encountered.
Editor’s note: Neighbors and friends are organizing an event in Ione’s honor. There will be an open house celebration of Ione’s incredible life on Sunday, May 20 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Community Room at the North Market, 4414 Humboldt Ave. N.
This article was written by Linda Steck