Don Woods was one of the first professional meteorologists on television. Prior to broadcasting the weather in Oklahoma, Don served in the U.S. Navy, then the National Weather Service, and in 1953 broadcasted weather for a Kansas TV station.
Weather broadcasting took a step up in 1954 when Don Woods came to Oklahoma. Being a professional meteorologist and member of the American Meteorological Society, Don’s skill was a rarity for TV weather broadcasting. For 35 years, Don was a favorite TV personality. His weather broadcasts had the Seal of Approval from the American Meteorological Society.
Not only was Don Woods a professional meteorologist; but he could also draw! Actually, Don found this little known talent after a few cartooning lessons and persuasive motivation from the Kansas TV station - a job requirement. They insisted that Don would draw a cartoon character for the weather section; so, Don came up with “Windy” and with that - the job was his!
In 1954 when Don moved his family to Oklahoma, “Windy” got a few changes and received the new name of “GUSTY”. Don and GUSTY® made their way into our homes and soon our hearts via the new ABC affiliate station, KTUL, originally broadcasted out of Muskogee, Oklahoma. Its broadcast range included the eastern portion of Oklahoma and into the bordering cities of Arkansas and Kansas. During the weather broadcast, one may see GUSTY® enjoying a spring frolic in the flowers; GUSTY® diving into the “Frady Hole” during a stormy day; GUSTY® dripping wet from a sultry summer afternoon; GUSTY® raking leaves while glaring at the last leaf still on the tree, or GUSTY® bundled up for a blue northeastern snowstorm.
GUSTY® could do just about anything. Nightly, families would gather to see Don draw GUSTY® hoping their name would be selected to receive that night’s original drawing. Thousands of requests were left unfilled in the mailroom when Don retired from weather broadcasting in 1989. Change was in the air; it was time for Don and GUSTY® to take on new adventures.
With retirement, Don began to teach meteorology at local colleges and pursue a painting career. GUSTY® would show up at fairs, art shows, in literature illustrations, and product endorsements…of course Don would always be somewhere nearby. The Smithsonian Institution’s registrar requested a GUSTY®; the Gilcrease Museum has Don’s first original watercolor; additional types of watercolor paintings can be found in local galleries and restaurants around Tulsa, and Woods Weather Wisdom can be checked out from the Tulsa County Library system. Don and GUSTY® have made their way into our hearts and homes. They can be described as lovable, endearing, trustworthy, reliable… they are like very good friends and part of the family.
Don Woods has received numerous awards and recognition. In 1988 Don was made an Honorary Okie From Muskogee, 1989 Oklahoma’s Honorary Meteorologist, a Pioneer Award recipient in 1993 from the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, and recognized in 2003 as a Tulsa Press Club TV Icon. Don Woods is a Meteorologist, Artist, Instructor, Author, Illustrator, Mentor, and Friend to multitudes. Don and his little cartoon character, GUSTY®, have found a place in our hearts and Oklahoma history.