Celebration of Life for Dr. Woodie Flowers

Nov 20, 2019 By Donald E. Bossi, FIRST President




Woodie and Margaret Flowers
Woodie and Margaret Flowers (Photo courtesy of Margaret Flowers)

Dear FIRST® Community,

In October, we shared the heartbreaking news that Dr. Woodie Flowers, Co-Chair of the FIRST Executive Advisory Board and Distinguished Advisor to FIRST, passed away at age 75. Woodie, an innovative MIT professor who helped Dean Kamen develop the FIRST Robotics Competition and coined the FIRST ethos of Gracious Professionalism®, has been an incredible supporter of our mission throughout our 30 years.

Woodie’s impact was widespread throughout our community, as shown by the overwhelming messages of condolences, memories, and gratitude shared online through the Woodie Flowers Memorial Fund page, Inspire blog, and social media. Additionally, wonderful features about Woodie have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Today, MIT News, and elsewhere.

As part of our community-wide efforts to celebrate Woodie’s life and honor his legacy, FIRST will host a celebration of life for Woodie Flowers on December 9 at 4:00 p.m. E.T. We invite our entire global community to join us in the virtual event broadcast on FIRSTtv and to share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #WoodieFlowers. We’re encouraging local FIRST communities around the world to gather together to watch the broadcast, celebrate Woodie’s life, and reflect on how to keep his legacy living on.

Woodie’s beloved wife, Margaret, will join us at the Celebration of Life broadcast from Manchester, N.H. I have known Margaret since I came to FIRST and have come to know she is every bit as passionate about FIRST and committed to our mission. As we prepare to celebrate Woodie’s life, I wanted to take a moment to shed some light on her story as well.

Margaret and Woodie met as students at Louisiana Tech University and remained close partners on all their life and career adventures. Margaret began her career as a teacher, but soon joined a large computer manufacturing company. She worked there for 25 years, first as a systems engineer, and then as a program manager leading large international teams in the U.S., France, Canada, Italy, and England.  They both had heavy work schedules while Woodie was a professor at MIT. Woodie often said, “My wife works so I can teach in the time-intensive way that I want to.” 

When Woodie and Dean began to develop the FIRST Robotics Competition based on Woodie’s then-famous Course 2.70 (2.007), he asked Margaret to resign from her job so that they could work together as a team as he also continued all of his current activities at MIT and became host of the popular national PBS Scientific American Frontiers TV show. Finally, Margaret agreed. She gave up her long and satisfying career because she believed deeply (and still does) that FIRST Robotics Competition, and FIRST in general, was the nation’s and the world’s best hope for changing societies with “gracious professionalism,” ethics, equalities, values, and opportunities.  As Woodie said, “Societies get the best of what they celebrate.” Margaret has continued to support FIRST for the last 25 years.

Margaret is truly a terrific and amazing person and continues to be a strong supporter of our mission. I am so grateful she is part of the FIRST community.


Don Bossi
President, FIRST

Woodie Flowers Celebration of Life

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