Mark Woodruff Tribute Page

About Mark Leroy Woodruff
This page will be updated on an ongoing basis.

Mark Woodruff in the mid-1970s
Thank you for visiting. For one year, my father's memorial guestbook was online via the Legacy site linked to the Arizona Republic's obituary service. To those who left guestbook entries, those have been saved and recorded, and your warm memories and comments have been greatly appreciated by family members and others. Thank you.

In this personal website, I intend to create sections that celebrate my father's life, his warm witty personality, and the significant volume of quality artwork he created.

I will be adding photos, images of my dad's artwork and cartoons, and themed sections about my dad's life history, his interests, what happened to him, and other information that will be of interest to all of my dad's friends and family members.

Thank you for reading, and please bookmark this page and continue checking as more is added.

See below for a sample of future material that will be included on this page (or pages)...

The following sections might be significantly altered or re-written in the upcoming weeks and months.

Mark Woodruff's family

Mark Woodruff and his twin brother Mike
Mark L. Woodruff grew up in and around Columbus, Ohio, with his beloved family, including father Carroll Woodruff and mother Johann Woodruff. Mark has an identical twin brother, Mike Woodruff, who was one of his closest friends, confidantes, backgammon competitors, golfing cohorts, and zany in-joke collaborators throughout his life. Mark was also close to his older sister, Diane.

Mark had two children and was a fun, caring father to them throughout his life.

At right is a picture of Mark with his brother Mike, during a visit to Ohio in 2013 or thereabouts. Mark regularly returned to Ohio to visit family, explore the neighborhoods of his youth, and play golf, among other activities.

More information will be added to this section over time.

Mark Woodruff's artwork

A painting Mark did for a college project
Mark Woodruff was a terrific artist throughout his life. In college, he studied art at the Columbus School of Art and also Otterbein University, where he received a bachelor's degree in art education.

Mark produced many paintings, including attractive landscapes that adorned his house and the homes of relatives. He was also an exceptional portrait artist, cartoonist, designer, and even abstract artist.

One of Mark Woodruff's earliest jobs was with the Highway Department, where he was in charge of designing and creating signage. He was skilled with lettering and could invent typefaces from scratch.

Eventually Mark started his own business, called MENUnique, which could be interpreted as "menu"-nique or also "men"-unique. During the first year of the business, Mark's snazzy outgoing brother-in-law Brent helped with marketing and contacts, while Mark designed and created restaurant menus, business cards, letterhead, magazine layouts, book covers, pamphlets, and all sorts of other attractive, art-intensive materials used for business and publication. Mark worked out of a home office (part of the house's garage, which allowed Mark to simultaneously watch over his children as a single father) where he created and implemented every aspect of his work, from the idea brainstorming early stages through to when the glossy finished product was in the hands of his clients.

Mark's artistic creativity was in display throughout his life. When sending cards or letters to people, there would usually be cartoon drawings involved, often depicting very funny and silly characters and situations.

Here is a YouTube video showing some of Mark Woodruff's college artwork, starting and ending with a self-portrait but primarily showing a series he did in which a tree-filled landscape was rendered in a variety of styles:

Mark Woodruff's life history and biography

Mark Woodruff as a young married man during the late 1960s
Mark Woodruff was born in the early 1940s and most of his childhood and youth took place during the 1950s and early 1960s. (He recently related to the styles and concerns exhibited by characters on "Mad Men.")

Mark's formative years were spent in Ohio, and he was fond of the culture and style of midwestern United States. Sometimes Mark would reminisce about the Ohio State University marching band, or the popular music from the years just before The Beatles changed the radio landscape. His favorite songs included "Our Day Will Come" by Ruby & the Romantics.

In the mid-1960s, while in college, Mark fell in love and was married, then had two children a few years apart. Their childhood experiences mostly occurred during the 1970s and early 1980s, in a suburban area of Phoenix, Arizona. After 11 years of marriage, Mark was divorced, after which for the most part he remained single.

It is hard to encapsulate a man's life in a few paragraphs, and anything I would write wouldn't do him justice unless it contained hundreds of pages of material. His positive interactions, examples, humor, conversations, attitude, and spirit live on in the memories of all who knew him.

Mark Woodruff's very large assortment of "Wally the Mouse" cartoons

A tip o' the hat from Wally the Mouse
In the late 1990s or so, Mark Woodruff essentially retired from his commercial-art business. He still took occasional freelance jobs, but with the rise of desktop computer graphics and publishing, Mark's services as an old-school, non-electronics-based commercial artist had decreased in demand. Though officially retired, Mark maintained income via part-time jobs as a late-night church custodian.

Because the job took place during the evenings and sometimes the very late hours of the night, Mark would go for days without direct communication between the management and himself. To remedy this situation, Mark began leaving notes with a coworker, but to make it fun -- and to give himself a creative way to take a break -- he left the notes in the form of cartoons. Eventually he developed a character named Wally the Mouse, who sort of became Mark's alter-ego. There is an elaborate backstory to this character, which I will add to this site in time (the coworker in question, whose name is Kathy, has graciously shared the details with me and given me persmission to publically reprint her recollections).

Wally the Mouse took on a life of his own, and soon Mark was asked to contribute Wally-themed cartoons (along with other artwork) to the church newsletter.

Over time, the accumulation of Wally cartoons grew, and Mark was making them for people other than his church coworkers. Many of Mark's family members received Wally cartoons in their holiday or birthday cards, often accompanied by witty captions, many of which related to wordplay and puns. The puns could at times be "groaner" style puns, but that was Mark's intention, because his approach to humor was to see how far something could be taken until it turned completely ridiculous.

Mark's son has inherited nearly all of the Wally cartoons. There are literally foot-high piles of these cute, nutty, whimsical illustrations. They represent the funny, creative mind of Mark Leroy Woodruff.

More to come...