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In Memoriam: Industry Mourns Passing of Joe Woodley

April 05, 2019, 07:30 AM
Filed Under: Industry News

It is with great sadness that National Equipment Finance Association announces the passing of Joe Woodley. Joe passed away April 2 after a brief illness. Joe Woodley was a leasing and specialty finance industry veteran and icon who was named as one of the “Top 25 Most Influential People in Leasing.” Joe will be missed by his many friends throughout the industry.

In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Joe worked for Colonial Pacific Leasing (CPL), then owned by Roseburg Lumber in the Portland, OR, area. John Thorne, the head of CPL at the time, had the idea to build a network of Leasing Brokers, as he saw it as more cost effective than competing for vendor business. Colonial Pacific Leasing was the first to pursue this business and Joe, along with several other individuals who would go on to become leasing industry veterans, were instrumental in helping CPL develop their original broker network. 

Joe was already a leasing industry veteran when he went to work for Colonial Pacific Leasing. Upon graduation from the University of Albuquerque, he went to work for Burroughs Corporation and later St. Paul Leasing. From 1977 to 1984, Joe served as the Vice President of Marketing for Colonial Pacific Leasing. Many brokers from the ‘70s and ‘80s got their start in the business because of Joe. He truly believed in the leasing association movement and was at the forefront of the formation of The Western Association of Equipment Lessors (WAEL).

When the association went through tumultuous times in 2001, Joe stepped in as Executive Director and helped to restore the association, then known as UAEL, on a path of stability and growth. He even volunteered to move to Oakland, CA, where he resided for two years while he worked tirelessly on association business before moving the UAEL headquarters back to Southern California, closer to his longtime home in La Quinta.

He brought longtime industry veteran Bill Grohe in as Membership Director and together they shepherded the association back to a strong financial position. He was instrumental in setting up the merger of UAEL and EAEL, former rival associations. The merged entity later became NEFA and the East and West coast associations became one national body for welcoming Lessors, Brokers, Funding Sources, Service Providers, Suppliers and Attorneys.
In retirement, Joe continued to work for Westover Financial, Whittier, CA, a company he had founded some 14 years earlier. He remained in La Quinta, CA, where he resided for over 30 years. Joe touched the lives of many people in the industry through his work with Colonial Pacific Leasing and later through his tenure with the WAEL and UAEL. He had a naturally gregarious nature, a quick wit and a prodigious sense of humor. There are many, many members of the leasing industry who would attest to the fact that they got into this business or stayed in this business because Joe had words of encouragement for them at a critical time. 

Joe’s philosophy could be summed up with the adage, “There are no strangers, only friends we haven’t met yet.” He continued to make new friends everywhere he went. Those who were fortunate enough to have known him over the years, know what a truly unique individual he was and understand why he will be sorely missed.

If you met Joe, you knew he was unique. If you were lucky, you knew him as a friend.

Joe is survived by his sister Jan Walker from Austin, TX. Joe was 78.

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