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Dr. Missy Woodward discovered right prescription of art and science

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Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:58 am | Updated: 1:34 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

FAIRBANKS — The scientific side of Dr. Marianna “Missy” Woodward developed with her care for hundreds of patients at the Tanana Valley Clinic. The artistic side developed during a lifetime, nearly four decades of which she spent with painter Kes Woodward.

As a chemistry major at Davidson College in North Carolina all those years ago, Kes had no thoughts of entering the art world.

“If anyone had told me when I was a senior in high school that I would be an artist, I would have been both surprised and offended,” he once wrote.

He was interested in science and math. But he was also interested in Missy Boaz, who had grown up on her family’s Virginia apple farm.

Kes took an art class as a sophomore because he detected a certain chemistry with Missy. He was 19 when she took him to an art museum. It was a first for him.

An art and art history major, Missy played an important part in the history of Davidson College. The first woman ever accepted as a candidate for graduation, she completed her studies with honors in 1973, the only female in a class of 217.

She and her classmate Kes married in 1971. A fulltime potter after leaving college, she did postgraduate work in ceramics, glass-blowing, architecture and taught art history for a brief period after they moved to Alaska in 1977.

She went back to school and completed her medical degree at the University of Washington in 1987. She became a pediatrician with an artistic touch, and she worked at the Tanana Valley Clinic until her death Sunday.

I’ll close by relating a story Kes posted three years ago on his blog about artistic collaboration with Missy.

In 2007, he was struggling to paint a Christmas ornament representing Denali National Park. This was for the White House tree, and he couldn’t get it right.

“After coming home to find me more and more frustrated every day for a week, as I painted new images on and wiped them off, Missy took pity on me and agreed to help,” he wrote.

“She is an extraordinary designer, craftswoman, and decorative painter, and with her efforts, the 6” diameter ball became an accurate rendering of the profile of Denali and the surrounding peaks, with a dramatic night sky and the aurora blazing in curtains of light above it, all the way around.

“Missy beaded not only the mountains, but the auroral curtains, staying up late into the night each night for a week, gluing on row after row of tiny seed beads. We took the best photos we could, but they don’t do it justice. Like the other couple of hundred ornaments on the 18’ tall tree, each celebrating a different national park, monument, or preserve, it is a beauty and a delight.

“We are both pleased and proud to have been able to do this for Denali National Park and Preserve. And I’m grateful to have a partner whose skills, energy, and good will can save me when I overconfidently agree to do things that I don’t have the particular talents for at all.”

A memorial service for Dr. Woodward is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday at Zion Lutheran Church at 2982 Davis Road.

Dermot Cole can be reached at or



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