EAST MOLINE — Each time Bill Ward turned a card with a Short Hills caddie's name on it, Louis "Lou'' Woodworth matched the caddie with the club member they often looped for.

Woodworth never missed. A perfect 10 for 10.

Most of the commentary after that was not meant for public consumption.

"Never tipped; never, never, never,'' the jovial Woodworth said. He and Ward have been pals for 70-plus years and caddied together back in the day at Short Hills Country Club.

"He was the bank president and never tipped,'' the 1951 United Township High School graduate, said with a laugh. "We had a name for that.''

A world-acclaimed entrepreneur, developer and investment specialist who never forgot where he came from, Woodworth and wife, Heidi, laughed their way down memory lane on Wednesday with Ward in the lobby of the Hyatt Place Hotel at The Bend

The three then made their way to the East Moline Public Library, where Woodworth sought refuge as a boy to get warm and nap.

There, Woodworth, who gave $1 million to help fund the library's expansion into the TBK Bank building, received a lifetime membership to the library. TBK gifted the building to East Moline and the library a year ago.

"I love what they have done with the town and the development that's going on,'' Woodworth said, noting he never thought he'd see a development like The Bend happen so close to the Mississippi River.

"I know water. I was born on the Ohio River in Metropolis, Ill., at high water,'' Woodworth continued. "I grew up here (East Moline) and had the Mississippi, lived in Cleveland with Lake Erie, have a home in Seattle on Puget Sound, and have a home at Pebble Beach with the Pacific Ocean. I have a relationship with water, and you have to be aware of it.  As you know, it can cause trouble.''

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Humble to a fault, Woodworth was taken aback with the attention paid to him on his return home. Wednesday was proclaimed "Louis E. Woodworth'' Day by the city. East Moline mayor Reggie Freeman also awarded Woodworth the key to the city at a dinner in his honor Wednesday at The Bend. Today (Thursday) Woodworth is to tour and dine at Short Hills Country Club, a place still near and dear to his heart.

"Waldo Johnson, the Caddy Master in those days, was a father to me,'' Woodworth said, taking time to honor the man who helped him get the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship to Northwestern University. "Great man. I owe him so much. He carried himself so well and was a man of great character. My good fortune in life is a result of the many things Waldo Johnson did for me.''

Ward, the former mayor of East Moline, is responsible for Woodworth's renewed relationship with the city. The two men, both in their 80s with the energy of a pair of 30-somethings, shared huge laughs Wednesday.

"Once a caddy, always a caddy,'' Woodworth said, refusing to boast he was a far better golfer than those he looped for. "Those were fun times. The stories we can and cannot tell.''

Soon Woodworth and Ward laid out the trials and tribulations of their youth and just how tough times could get in those days.

"Depression-era kids,'' Ward said. "Lou would go to the library to get warm and sometimes nap. I'd pick berries at Short Hills so my mom could can them and make jam. I picked apples at Short Hills so my mom could use them for apple pie. Lou always ate his berries and his apples and I always took mine home. There were nine kids at my house.''

Though times have changed for both men,  they have one thing that will always tie them together.

"We both appreciate where we came from,'' Woodworth said, just before he, Heidi and Ward went off  to visit the East Moline Library. "I'm glad to be back home.''

And home is glad to have him.


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