Pastoral Care and Counseling’s Sensitive Gentleman — by James Pruett

21 Jan 2019 5:55 PM | Perry Miller, Editor (Administrator)

Friday, January 11, 2019, in Asheville, North Carolina, our tradition lost one of its finest providers of hospitality and sustainers of this movement when the Reverend Dr. C.  Roy Woodruff, Sr. passed peacefully holding the hands of his two sons. Charles, Jr. and Earl. Roy and his wife Kay Carolyn Jernigan Woodruff were married for and served together for 57 years, well-complementing each other.  

Roy dedicated his life to helping others through his work as a chaplain, pastoral counselor, teacher, and executive director who was committed to his family, church and community.  A native of Anniston, Alabama, an Eagle Scout, and a member of the tennis team at the University of Alabama, Roy completed his B.D. and Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Psychology and Pastoral Care. He was Head of the Pastoral Counseling Department at Bryce State Hospital (Tuscaloosa, AL), taught Patient Counseling at Medical College of Virginia; served as head of the Department of Pastoral Care at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; was Executive Director of both Peninsula Pastoral Counseling Center (Hampton/Newport News, VA) and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and Visiting Professor for the Korean Christian Institute of Psychotherapy (Seoul). Of his many publications especially significant were those that focused on addictions and their impact on spirituality and the family. Roy received the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care’s Distinguished Service Award (2002), the Wayne Oates Award from the Wayne E. Oates Institute (2004)  and the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in Religious Services by Marquis Who’s Who (2018). 

A dear friend and colleague whose obituary well captured Roy as “a gentle, kind person with a wry wit and a sensitive soul” I got the privilege of knowing him as we worked closely to sustain the profession in certification, accreditation, endorsement, public marketing , and in interdisciplinary, international and military context.  Roy well exemplified our field, his faith and our discipline’s common mission. Just as when we function at our best, Roy, his message and the mission consistently were integrated. Roy typified integration in his care for a young, confused student at a conference or in training workshops and certification interviews through interpreters in Seoul, understanding a family life chaplain who presented a certification counseling tape of a session with live gun fire in the background, advocacy of dual accreditation site visits with CACREP and collaboration with ACOA, development of endorsement options for persons marginalized, support for new certification tracks for pastoral psychotherapists, production of the Telly Award-winning video depicting the distinctiveness of pastoral counseling, encouragement of CPSP’s membership as Chair of COMISS and his consistent ability to communicate to others, “You are important. You are valuable.” 

Roy found life meaningful hiking, backpacking, playing tennis, reading, writing, enjoying dogs but he also enjoyed people and in his own way by being a Sensitive Gentleman offering hospitality… So can we! 

Saturday, January 26 at 11:00 AM at First Baptist Church, 5 Oak Street in Asheville, NC, many of us will recall our shared story and why we sustain this discipline as we remember our dear friend, Roy Woodruff. Memorial donations of Dr. Roy Woodruff may be made to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy ( or to The Carter Center (