Jon Carpenter served as an assistant on Woolwine's staff for three years before succeeding him as head coach. He also got to see the off-the-field side of Woolwine that many on the outside didn't.
"I've tried to tell people that he really puts it all in perspective,'' Carpenter said. "It's why you do this. A lot of guys have better records than him, or state championships, but they don't have the relationships with players that he did - everybody involved. I think he had a grasp on that.
"He kind of instilled in me a love for that community and those kids. It's a different place. Different situations than most. I think helping those kids out took precedence over everything else. Your character is what everybody remembers, not your record. Hopefully, that's the thing that lasts.''
Vencill knew that no matter how tough the situations got for Capital, Woolwine would handle it with dignity. No player was ever singled out for criticism after a loss.
"It was the same way with Jack and with Roger [Jefferson, Woolwine's predecessor],'' Vencill said. "They always tried to give the kids credit, and if things didn't go well, we took the hit for it. He'd say they played the best they could, they gave all they had. He'd say maybe he could have done something a little different. He did not throw them under the bus.
"I really think the one best thing I can say about Jack is that if I had a son getting ready to play football or any sport, I would want them to play for Jack. I know he would treat him as a gentleman and do the best he could for that kid - not only make him a football player, but a model young man.''
Those who knew him and worked with him were always amazed on how unflappable Woolwine could remain in situations that often drive others to disgust or dismay.
"We played Riverside a few years ago,'' Vencill recalled, "and they beat us in a real good ballgame. Now nobody likes to lose, but we're going through the line after the game [shaking hands] and the coaches are always at the end of the line. Jack shook hands with [Riverside assistant] Danny Hill and he looked at Danny and said, 'You like to fish, don't you?' Danny said, 'What?' Jack said, 'You want to go fishing tomorrow? I'll pick you up and we'll go fish.' Danny said, 'Sure.'
"Sure enough, he picked him up at his house at 6 the next day and a couple hours later, they had their lines in the water. That's the kind of guy he was. He was competitive, but he left it on the field. That epitomizes him more than anything.''
Carpenter realizes he has a tough act to follow as Capital coach - from the standpoint of both successful teams and strong leadership of young lives, often in trying times.
"Class is the best word that describes him,'' Carpenter said. "He always took the blame if things went bad and gave away credit when it went good. He never got mad at officials, never felt cheated, any of that. Always felt it would be OK. The only person mad at him is someone sharing a fishing hole with him. He was never mad at anybody, and nobody ever got mad at him. I've been around some of the classiest guys, and he was just a unique guy. He wasn't going to cheat or cut any corners to win.
"I would always complain about things, and try to understand why he wouldn't. I wanted him to jump up on the table and slam things like I would, but that wasn't him. It took me two years in that job to realize why he didn't. He knew it wasn't going to change anything. That's not a good way to confront your problems that you face. He was a whole lot wiser than I am. I'm selfish . . . I just can't get past how much I'll miss him.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.