OROVILLE — The Oroville Union High School District is honoring Robert “Benny” Woodson posthumously as a 2021 Hall of Fame inductee.
Woodson was a member of the first class to graduate from Las Plumas High School in 1963.
Woodson was a four-year member of Block LP, lettered in football and track and served as captain of the football team his junior and senior years. In his junior year Woodson was elected president of the Sierra Foothill League. In his senior year he was the leading scorer in Northern California and named to the Northern California All-Star Team. He ended his athletic career at Las Plumas setting a school record 10.1 in the 100-yard dash. Active in Student Body activities, Woodson was on the school newspaper staff and was Boys State Representative.
The Las Plumas graduate played football for one season at Sierra College in Rocklin before accepting a full academic/athletic scholarship to the University of Utah, the first for an African-American student at that university. In 1966 Woodson was second in the Western Athletic Conference in rushing attempts, rushing yards and plays from scrimmage. In his three seasons at Utah, he played in 31 games scoring 18 rushing touchdowns and two receiving. He played in the 1964 Liberty Bowl, with the Utes beating West Virginia in Atlantic City, New Jersey by a score of 32-6. This was the first major bowl game ever played indoors and broadcast nation-wide.
Woodson earned his undergraduate degree in business administration in 1967 and that same year was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 15th round as the 384th overall pick. He opted instead to play for the Canadian Football League where he was a member of the Calgary Stampeders for one year, carrying the ball 85 times for 401 yards. He also had 24 receptions for 200 yards and one touchdown.
After a knee injury ended his football career, Woodson returned to the University of Utah to earn his master’s degree in recreational therapy. While working on his degree, Woodson opened the first Boys and Girls Club of Salt Lake City. He went on to own various businesses in Salt Lake City including Mr. Goodtime restaurant, a construction company and a Harley Davidson motorcycle shop. He also worked as a real estate broker, brakeman for Georgia Pacific Railroad and as a scout for the San Francisco 49ers football team. He ran for mayor of Salt Lake City in the 1972 primary, but was not elected.
Benny returned to Oroville sometime during the late 1970s to early 1980s and continued his association with the Boys and Girls Club.
Woodson’s nickname in high school was “Mr. Fix-it” because he was always willing to help anyone fix things. His commitment to helping others was a life-long trait. As his obituary noted: “At a moment’s notice, he would readily assist those in need. This often took the form of giving the clothes off his back, even the shoes off his feet, as well as feeding friends or strangers.”
Woodson passed away in 2017. His tombstone is a football field with him carrying a football in the center and reads, at the top, “Robert ‘Benny’ Woodson Kickoff: August 15, 1945” and, at the bottom, “Touchdown: January 6, 2017.”
He is survived by sons Chris and Dimitri Woodson and their families.
The Oroville Union High School District 2021 Hall of Fame dinner and ceremony will be held at Feather Falls Casino, Oct. 2. Both the 2021 and 2020 Hall of Fame recipients will be inducted at the ceremony. Seats are limited. For more information and tickets contact: Paula Blaney, 538-2300 ext. 1107.