A lifetime of favors repaid in man's final months

Folks in Corbett, Oregon are thanking Woody Davis for the good deeds he's done for over the last 50 years.
CBS News

In a small town east of Portland, Oregon, there is a man who has spent his entire life helping his neighbors. Now in his time of need, they are giving back. CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman found this story on the road in Corbett, Oregon.

On a high ridge above the Columbia River, just down from heaven, you'll find an angel on a front end loader.

Woody Davis is kind of a jack-of-all-trades. And although he's never made much money at it, by all accounts, he has earned his wings.

Here are some of what the people in town have said of him:

"He's the epitome of something dear."

"You have to chase him down to pay him sometimes."

"He's uncommon, he's special, he's a gift that this community has had all these years."

Which is why folks here in Corbett, Oregon are now going out of their way to thank Woody for the thousands of good deeds he's done for them over the last 50 years.

Recently, they all got together to cut and stack his firewood for winter. A couple guys fixed-up his old pick-up. Someone even built him a beautiful wood box and invited the whole town to sign it.

"Did you know how much the community cared for him?" Steve asked Woody's son Clint.

"Not to the degree I do now," he said.

Clint said all the work his dad did for people has been repaid ten-fold. "Bill Gates could not come to Corbett and buy this. You can't buy the love that people have poured out for dad."

Their words and deeds are sincere and lasting. Unfortunately, the box is pine -- and the outlook isn't good.

A few months ago, Woody was diagnosed with ALS -- Lou Gehrig's disease. Doctors tell him he has about six months. The disease, which attacks the nervous system, is already making it hard for him to lift or even talk. But his attitude remains unaffected.

"What do you think of what everybody's been doing for you?" Steve asked Woody.

"I can't believe it," he said.

"You can't believe it?"

"I feel blessed that I'm dying slowly."

Steve really didn't think he heard him right. "Wait, did you just say you feel blessed that you're dying slowly?"

Because people have a chance to express to me how they feel, he said.

In most communities, death is whispered and praise is saved for the eulogy. But Woody Davis and the people of Corbett, Oregon show us why that may be too late. Turns out even angels like to know they've made a difference.

  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.