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Rating:LPL San Diego: Bob and Lee Woodruff Talk Humor, Love and War Coverage Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

LPL San Diego: Bob and Lee Woodruff Talk Humor, Love and War Coverage

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

Keeping a family together while the father is off covering war stories as a television journalist requires the four "F's," according to Lee Woodruff: family, friends, faith and funny. Apparently, a wicked sense of competition with regards to kindergarten Show and Tell doesn't hurt either.

These were among the insights provided attendees at the LPL Focus 2014 Conference hosted from May 10 to May 13 at the San Diego Convention Center by Lee and Bob Woodruff.

The Woodruffes, who have been friends with LPL president Robert Moore for decades, discussed the challenges and triumphs they experienced as a family during the career of Bob, who was co-anchor of ABC News before being critically injured while assignment in Iraq in 1996.

Bob's career first started out as a M&A attorney at the law firm Shearman & Sterling. However, he started this job during the slump of 1987, leaving him with little deal work. Having studied Chinese in college, he decided to teach law in China, bringing his then-girlfriend Lee with him.

Teaching in China had its youthful challenges. Showers were located elsewhere on the college campus and culture shock was plentiful. Most questions from students centered not around law, but on such subjects as who were his favorite American celebrities.

The 1989 crisis in Tiananmen Square afforded Bob his first exposure to television journalism, serving as a translator to CBS news staff. Returning to the states, he realized that he had the journalism bug. Giving up promising legal job to earn just $12,000 a year in Redding, California where he first gained his chops as a journeyman TV journalist who drove his own video truck, operated the camera and reported the news.

Over the years, he progressively moved up in his profession, joining ABC News and frequently going overseas to cover various conflicts and battles resulting from the 9/11 attacks.

Lee Woodruff then described life as a wife and mother holding down the fort as Bob went off to combat coverage throughout the world.

They then described the experiences of Woodruff's life-changing IED explosion injuries in January 2006 near Taji, Iraq.

Of course, there were the horrific injuries: a shattered, a pebble near a carotid artery. parts of skull removed to handle brain swelling, and so on. More details can be found here.

However, Lee (known in the family as the "General") and Bob eloquently turned the story in a paean to marriage describing all the goofy, heartwarming moments of love and devotion.

The moments when Bob, during his 36 day coma, would sit up on his bed and declare to the nurse "This is Bob Woodruff, ABC News," and the games he would play with the kids as little pieces of shrapnel and rock would work its way out of the skin. His daughters collected it in a bottle and totally owned kindergarten Show and Tell that year. There were the moments when he had to relearn language, with the help of his children, and his ongoing efforts to deal with lingering effects such as partial deafness -- which Bob said was very helpful when his wife ordered him to throw out the garbage. There were also the stories of the helicopter pilots who turned off their radios to ignore orders keeping them away from rescuing Woodruff due to danger in the area -- they didn't even know he was a celebrity at the time.

There was also talk of the couple's efforts to launch a foundation devoted to helping victims of traumatic brain injuries and also of their dedication to optimism. That it isn't about where on is, but where they are going.  

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