James A. Woods, born on Thursday, July 4, 1929, passed away on New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1, 2023. James is survived by his brother, CDR Herbert Woods USN-Ret. (Arlene) of Phoenix, AZ; children, Connie Flores (Richard Shoemaker) of Rio Rancho, NM, James Woods (Nancy) of Albuquerque, NM, and Casey Woods of Albuquerque NM; stepchildren, Donna Hatfield (Ron Erwin) of Scottsdale, AZ, and Keith Merbler (Roni) of Tijeras, NM; and many nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and great- and great-great-grandchildren. Mr. Woods was preceded in death by his wife, Veronica (or Miki) of Albuquerque, NM; eldest son, Thomas M. Woods of Houston, TX; brother-in-law, Bob Mclaughlin (Polly) of Albuquerque, NM, and countless cherished souls that James had called friends and loved ones.
James proudly served in the US Army, based in Germany. He then attended the University of New Mexico, graduating with a degree in Architectural Engineering in 1956. At this time, he also pursued his pilot license and worked in the construction industry as a Design Engineer with a prominent homebuilder. He later founded “J.A. Woods, Ltd.,” designing custom homes in the Albuquerque area.
In the 1960s, James was very involved in the ski industry, surveying ski lifts, and was the official lift inspector for NM Ski Area Operators. He worked closely with the State of New Mexico to prove the ski establishments were providing safe facilities for the public. This was when the managers of the Sandia Ski Area asked James to evaluate the possibility of building a tram to the top of the Sandia Mountains. This incredible endeavor of surveying had to be managed on steep and rocky terrain at high altitude, with the base at 6,559 feet above sea level. The crest, where the top terminal would be located, sits at 10,378 feet. With two towers, it totaled a distance of 2.7 miles, which, at that time, was the longest in the world. Such an amazing feat would be James’s proudest accomplishment.
James continued his work in the ski industry, providing consultation and construction projects at many of the great ski resorts across New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and California. James did development of such beautiful sites as Eagle Nest, Angel Fire, Snowmass, and Squaw Valley.
James was soon on his way to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for a four-year project developing their Olympic Village, the Kingdom’s World Sports Complex. During those years, he and Miki traveled around the world together. They visited Japan, Panama, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Yemen, Oman, the Seychelles, and a Kenyan Safari, as well as their infamous “Accidental Trip” into East Germany, where they suddenly found themselves behind the Berlin Wall.
Upon their return to the USA, they moved to Phoenix and attempted to retire. James filled his days with golf, water skiing, flying, downhill skiing, and numerous hobbies. He went back to work as Assistant Director of Construction for developing the prestigious Scottsdale Ranch. James was later named Director of Construction of Markland Properties and immediately began designing another amazing community known as Gainey Ranch.
After a couple more engineering consultation jobs, at seventy years old, James felt it was time to retire, again. Well, not quite. A few more opportunities in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Guam, and New Hampshire delayed that retirement.
James was intelligent with worldly experience and never backed away from a problem, always quick to lend a hand. He adored a new challenge or puzzle to solve. His numerous lifelong friends called him Jimbo, Big Jim, and Jimmy Jim, not so much for his stature but for all the other ways a person earns respect amongst peers. James, you will be missed, and we raise a glass of scotch in your honor this day. The family will gather in Springtime for a Memorial.