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Los Angeles County









WOODWARD, FRANK J., President and Manager of the F. J. Woodward Company, Incorporated, Oakland, California, was born near Mission San Jose, in Alameda County, California, on September 27, 1870.  He is the foster son of James and Elizabeth Woodward.  He married Miss Dell Chapman, daughter of the Reverend Doctor E. S. Chapman, at Oakland, California, August 11, 1892.  Of their union there are three children, Gwendolen Dell, born April 1, 1894; Phyllis Fay, born March 18, 1896, and Ervin Chapman Woodward, born June 9, 1899.

            Mr. Woodward’s father went to California in the year 1869, settling in Alameda County, and the son, who has spent practically all his days in California, has been prominently identified with the practical growth and development of that section.  From the outset, Mr. Woodward was trained for a business career.  He attended Franklin Grammar School in Oakland, from 1876 to 1884, and during the following year was a student at Oakland High School.  Leaving there he took up a commercial course in Heald’s Business College, of San Francisco, and graduated from that institution in 1886.

            Upon the conclusion of his educational work Mr. Woodward obtained employment with the real estate firm of Woodward & Gamble, of Oakland, in the capacity of cashier, and served in this position for about four years.  He then became confidential man and private secretary to E. C. Sessions, of Oakland, a celebrated financier of the Pacific Coast, whose interests included banking, real estate and street railways.  Mr. Sessions is recalled as one of California’s most progressive investors and capitalists, the builder of street railways and one of the pioneer developers of the water front district of Oakland.  He also was instrumental, to a great extent, in the general improvement of real estate in Oakland.

            Mr. Woodward was associated with Mr. Sessions for about five years, during the most active stage of his career, and in the confidential capacity occupied by him was enabled to gain a tremendous amount of practical knowledge about the organization and operation of great financial enterprises.

            This experience, gained by participation in some of the most important undertakings of the time in Oakland and San Francisco, proved of inestimable value to Mr. Woodward and has been largely instrumental in his own subsequent success as a financier and adviser of financial institutions.

            In 1895 Mr. Woodward resigned his position with Mr. Sessions to accept appointment by the Superior Court of Alameda County, California, as Receiver for the Highland Park & Fruitvale Railway Company.  His previous knowledge of street railway affairs was such that Mr. Woodward’s administration resulted in the company being restored to a firm basis, and within two years and a half the receivership was concluded and the road sold to the Oakland Traction Company.

            His success in handling this company immediately placed Mr. Woodward among the prominent business men of Oakland, although he was barely twenty-five years of age when he undertook the responsibility imposed upon him by the court.

            Following the sale of the Highland Park & Fruitvale Railway to the Oakland Traction interests, Mr. Woodward took over the management of the W. J. Dingee real estate interests, a position involving the handling of much valuable property and requiring considerable managerial ability.  After handling the business for about a year, Mr. Woodward, in 1899, purchased the Dingee holdings and organized the real estate firm of Woodward, Watson & Co.  For the next three years Mr. Woodward devoted himself to the management of the company’s business, but at the end of that period withdrew from it and associated himself with Henry A. Butters, another well-known capitalist of Oakland.  Together they organized the Realty Bonds & Finance Company, Mr. Woodward taking the position of Vice President and Manager, and for about five years succeeding he devoted practically all of his time and energy to this, one of the flourishing investment enterprises of Oakland.

            In 1907 Mr. Woodward sold out his interest in the Realty Bonds & Finance Company and retired for a time from brokerage business.

            Later Mr. Woodward organized the F. J. Woodward Company, Incorporated, which is engaged in the buying, developing and selling of property.  He, as President and Manager of the concern, has been one of its dominant factors and has placed it among the strong institutions of Oakland.

            During his many years of business activity, Mr. Woodward has earned a wide reputation for keen judgment and loyalty to the best interests of Oakland and its environs.  He has promoted and managed some of the most important realty enterprises ever undertaken on the east side of San Francisco Bay, and is generally regarded by the investing public as an authority on realty and other finance.

            A man of great public spirit, Mr. Woodward has for many years been closely identified with the progressive elements of Oakland and has figured in various civic movements inaugurated for the advancement of the city’s interests.  He was especially active in relief work following the disaster which visited San Francisco in 1906, and was one of the men who helped to establish the reputation of Oakland for generosity.

            Mr. Woodward belongs to the conservative wing of the Republican party and has always supported the principles of the organization, but he is not an active participant in political affairs except insofar as he has stood at all times for the men and movements which he considered best for the country.

            He is prominent in fraternal circles in Oakland, being a member of Live Oak Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; Oakland Lodge No. 171, B. P. O. Elks, and the Native Sons of the Golden West.  He also is a member of the Athenian Club of Oakland.



Transcribed by Joyce Rugeroni.

Source: Press Reference Library, Western Edition Notables of the West, Vol. I,  Page 445, International News Service, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta.  1913.

© 2010 Joyce Rugeroni.