Anyone who knows Kilgore city employee Bill Woodall knows that he has lived a life of adventure, spending his time exploring most of the United States and Western Canada on his motorcycle; he is a man with a story to tell for almost any city you can name.

Woodall is leaving the City of Kilgore this month on what he calls his penultimate adventure, though he has plans to return every winter to the town he has come to call home.

“Every good friend I have in this world is within 10 miles of this desk (within Kilgore City Hall), so I will always have a reason to come back here,” he said.

Woodall was born in the East Texas area and spent the majority of his childhood in Jacksonville, where he attended high school and then college.

The Woodall family were employees of the local newspaper in Jacksonville when he was growing up, with his mother working as society editor and his father writing for the sports department, as well as selling advertisements.

He said he remembered growing up surrounded by the industry, learning to drive with his father during his regular trips to Rusk to deliver the newspaper.

Woodall attended school and received degrees in both anthropology and psychology, though stated he had little direction when he graduated on what he would do next. He came up with a plan to join the Air Force ROTC, and traveled home with his new wife to share the news with his family.

In the time that it took Woodall to graduate college and receive both degrees, his father and mother had started their own successful newspaper business. The couple has purchased and managed a number of local newspapers in the area, and had plans to purchase an additional one in Van.

“I came home and I told my dad that I planned to join the Air Force, and he said, ‘Son, I don’t think you’d do well in the Air Force. You’re not a yes sir, take orders kind of person,’ and that’s when he offered for me to come work with him,” Woodall said.

Woodall took over the newspaper for his family in Van and began his long career in local journalism. He followed in his family’s footsteps for most of his professional career, owning and operating several newspapers, as well as working for a while in corporate news.

Though he spent some time working for both Edward Jones and Merrill Lynch as insurance brokers, and moved as far away as Colorado, Woodall said that he never forgot his Texas roots and always preferred blue jeans to blazers.

When the Kilgore News Herald came up for purchase in 2001, Woodall jumped at the opportunity to be closer to his parents and made the journey back to East Texas, taking over the newspaper that ran his birth announcement decades before.

For years, Woodall ran the Kilgore News Herald’s weekly paper, ingratiating himself in the local community as a cherished and vital member. In 2014, Woodall was even recognized with the local Citizen of the Year award.

“When I stood up to give a speech (during Citizen of the Year gala) I said, as a newspaper person, you have live a tent and camel life style, well, when I came to Kilgore I sold the camel and burned the tent,” Woodall said.

During that time, Woodall said that he fell in love with the city, describing Kilgore as the “coolest little town there is.”

“I have lived in small towns in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, and Kilgore really is the coolest town there is,” he said, “There is always something to do here.”

With a life of adventure, Woodall said that he planned to make Kilgore his final place of residence, calling the city his true home.

Even when Woodall sold the newspaper in 2018, he said he never considered leaving Kilgore. Finding he was having a difficult time living the “retired life,” Woodall said he began to look for easy, interesting, part-time work.

“Josh (Selleck, Kilgore City Manager), overheard me talking about how I applied to work the front desk at Kilgore College, and he asked me if I wanted to be an intern,” Woodall said, “I have to have been the oldest, most experienced intern this city ever had.”

So began Woodall’s career with the City of Kilgore, where he works now as an archivist and in the city’s communications department. He said he began with a simple job, digitizing the city’s extensive catalog of paper archives and has since added on more jobs to his title.

Woodall still works as the archivist, and actively adds more records to the city’s online data base — a process through which he has created a deep understanding and appreciation for the history of the city.

“No one knows the history of the City of Kilgore like I do, because I have read all of the original documents, and I have personally digitized all of them in the archive,” he said.

After five years, Woodall will be ending his career with the city in March to move onto what he calls his penultimate adventure.

A lifelong lover of both geography and traveling, Woodall spent a lot of his free time on his motorcycle, traveling through the majority of the United States and a large portion of Canada. Throughout his travels he collected maps, both vintage and new, and camped in places most of us only dream of.

“I wanted to go to where the road ends,” Woodall said, a dream he realized a few years ago when he traveled with a friend on his motorcycle to Western Canada, traveling to Yellowknife and camping along the way.

The city of Yellowknife borders Great Slave Lake, a place that Woodall said he has always dreamed of going.

“We traveled all the way up there, and camped all along the way, and we got to where in the summer you can’t travel, because you have to wait for the lake to freeze, it was the end of the road,” Woodall said.

He said that he plans to continue this life of adventure in this new phase, selling his house and the majority of his belongings to travel to Pennsylvania and work as a trail host at a campground.

Taking with him his trailer, his truck and his dog Millie, Woodall said that he plans to take the summer months traveling to work at different camp grounds in the United States, traveling back to Kilgore to spend the winter months here.

“It doesn’t seem practical does it,” Woodall said, “But I figured that the long distance traveling portion of my life is over now, so this is another way to travel and still do what I love. It’s my second retirement.”